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15  WEST  16th  STREET 
PW  YORK,  N.Y.,  10011 


^.3 


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in  2015 

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midstream: 
my  later  life 


BOOKS  BY 

HELEN  KELLER 


OPTIMISM    (AN  ESSAY) 
OUT   OF   THE  DARK 
MIDSTREAM:   MY   LATER  LIFE 
MY  RELIGION 
THE   SONG   OF  THE   STONE  WALL 
THE   STORY   OF   MY  LIFE 
THE   WORLD   I   LIVE  IN 


Helen  Keller  and  Sieglinde 


MIDSTMEAM 

My   Later   L  if  e 

by 

HELEN  KELLER 


Garden  City,  New  York 
DOUBLEDAY,  DORAN  &  COMPANY,  INC. 
1929 


COPYRIGHT,  1939 
BY  HELEN  KELLER 
COPYRIGHT,  1929 
BY  THE  CROWELL  PUBLISHING  COMPANY 

ALL  RIGHTS  RESERVED 
PRINTED  IN  THE  UNITED  STATES  AT 
THE  COUNTRY  LIFE  PRESS 
GARDEN  CITY,  N.  Y. 


FIRST  EDITION 


TO 

ANNE  SULLIVAN 

WHOSE  LOVE 
IS 

THE  STORY  OF  MY  LIFE 


"There  be  many  shapes  of  mystery; 
And  many  things  God  brings  to  be, 

Past  hope  or  fear. 
And  the  end  men  looked  for  cometh  not, 
And  a  path  is  there  where  no  man  thought. 

So  hath  it  fallen  here." 

— ^Euripides. 


FOREWORD 


Somewhere  in  the  course  of  her  book  Miss  Keller 
speaks  of  the  "sacrosanct  privacy  to  which  tradition 
and  the  necessities  of  concentrated  thinking  entitle 
writers  and  artists."  It  is  something  she  has  never 
known.  Since  she  was  seven  years  old,  when  she  was 
hailed  as  "a  most  extraordinary  little  individual," 
"a  mental  prodigy,"  and  "an  intellectual  phenom- 
enon," whose  achievements  were  "little  short  of  a 
miracle,"  whose  progress  was  "a  sort  of  triumphant 
march— a  series  of  dazzling  conquests,"  the  great 
megaphones  of  publicity  have  followed  her,  trumpet- 
ing truth  and  untruth  with  equal  fury,  even  when  the 
truth  alone  was  more  wonderful  than  all  the  embel- 
lishments heated  imaginations  could  add  to  it. 

Helen  Keller  was  born,  a  perfectly  healthy  and 
normal  child,  in  Tuscumbia,  Alabama,  on  June  27, 
1880.  At  the  age  of  eighteen  months  she  was  stricken 
with  a  severe  illness,  the  exact  nature  of  which  is  not 
known.  It  left  her  deaf  and  blind;  as  a  result 
of  the  deafness  she  soon  became  dumb  also. 
For  five  years  she  remained  imprisoned.  Then, 
through  Dr.  Alexander  Graham  Bell,  to  whom  her 
father  appealed  because  he  knew  Dr.  Bell's  interest 


X  FOREWORD 

in  the  deaf,  a  deliverer  was  sent  to  her  in  the  person 
of  a  twenty-year-old  graduate  of  the  Perkins  Institu- 
tion for  the  Blind  at  Boston,  Mass.,  a  girl  by  the 
name  of  Anne  Mansfield  Sullivan.  From  the  day  of 
Miss  Sullivan's  arrival  on  March  2,  -1887,  the  story 
of  Miss  Keller's  life  reads  like  a  fairy  tale.  Within  a 
month  the  teacher  had  presented  the  gift  of  language 
to  her  little  pupil,  an  achievement  in  itself  so 
miraculous  that  fifty  years  earlier  no  one  had  be- 
lieved it  possible.  Until  Dr.  Samuel  Gridley  Howe 
proved  through  the  education  of  Laura  Bridgman 
that  their  minds  could  be  reached  and  shown  how 
to  reach  out,  the  totally  blind  and  deaf  were  classi- 
fied with  idiots  and  left  alone. 

Since  Laura's  education  numbers  of  those  afflicted 
a&  she  was  have  been  placed  in  communication  with 
the  world.  Some  of  them  have  shown  considerable 
natural  ability,  but  Helen  Keller  is  to-day,  as  she 
has  always  been,  incomparably  the  greatest  among 
them.  She  is  the  only  one  who  has  ever  been  received, 
without  apology,  into  the  world  of  the  seeing.  In  a 
college  for  normal  girls  to  which  she  was  admitted 
reluctantly  and  without  favour  she  won  a  degree  cum 
laude  in  the  same  length  of  time  it  took  her  classmates 
to  win  theirs.  She  has  learned  to  speak — the  only 
,  deaf-blind  person  in  America  of  whom  this  is  true. 
She  has  acted  in  vaudeville  and  in  motion  pictures; 
she  has  lectured  in  every  state  in  the  Union  except 


FOREWORD  xi 
Florida/  and  in  many  parts  of  Canada;  she  has  writ- 
ten books  of  literary  distinction  and  permanent 
value;  she  has,  since  her  graduation  from  college, 
taken  an  active  part  in  every  major  movement  on 
behalf  of  the  blind  in  this  country,  and  she  has 
managed  to  carry  on  a  wide  correspondence  in  Eng- 
lish, French,  and  German,  and  to  keep  herself  in- 
formed by  means  of  books  and  magazines  in  those 
three  languages. 

Two  years  ago  she  laid  down— temporarily— her 
work  for  the  American  Foundation  for  the  Blind, 
thinking  to  go  quietly  to  her  home  on  Long  Island, 
and  there  with  her  teacher,  Mrs.  Macy,^  her  secre- 
tary. Miss  Thomson,  and  her  Great  Dane,  Sieglinde, 
review  the  part  of  her  life  which  had  elapsed  since 
her  sophomore  year  at  Radcliffe  College  when  The 
Story  of  My  Life,  which  is  the  story  of  her  child- 
hood and  young  girlhood,  was  published. 

I  think  she  had  not  realized  how  difficult  it  would 
be  to  isolate  herself.  She  could  stop  sending  letters 
out,  but  she  could  not  stop  them  coming  in,  nor  could 
she  head  ofif  the  beggars  who  swarmed  to  her  door. 
Few  people  realize  what  is  expected— nay,  what  is 
demanded— of  her.  Not  a  day  passes  without  urgent 
and  heartbreaking  appeals  from  all  over  the  world. 
They  come  by  letter  and  in  person— from  the  blind, 
thedeaf,  the  crippled,  the  sick,  the  poverty-stricken, 

^Since  this  was  written  Miss  Keller  has  also  lectured  in  Florida. 
^Formerly  Miss  Anne  Mansfield  Sullivan. 


xii  FOREWORD 
and  the  sorrow-laden.  In  addition  to  these,  there 
are,  of  course,  requests  for  pictures,  autographs,  testi- 
monials, and  explanations  of  what  she  thinks  of  re- 
incarnation or  prohibition.  But  the  majority  of  Miss 
Keller's  letters  and  the  majority  of  her  callers  come 
with  distressing  pleas  for  help.  "Oh,  Miss  Keller, 
you,  with  your  unparalleled  opportunities!  You, 
with  your  wealthy  friends!" 

The  letters  were  turned  over  to  Miss  Thomson  and 
Miss  Keller  sat  down— it  must  be  confessed  without 
special  enthusiasm,  for  she  has  never  been  greatly 
interested  in  herself— to  continue  the  story  of  her 
life.  Almost  immediately  Miss  Thomson  was  im- 
peratively called  away,  and  Mrs.  Macy,  who  is 
nearly  blind,  and  Miss  Keller,  who  is  quite  blind, 
were  left  to  struggle  along  as  best  they  could. 

They  got  their  own  meals,  Mrs.  Macy  doing  most 
of  the  cooking  while  Miss  Keller  washed  the  dishes, 
made  the  beds,  did  the  dusting,  and  on  Monday 
pricked  out  the  laundry  list  in  braille  so  she  could 
check  it  when  the  clothes  came  back  on  Saturday. 
When  the  morning  chores  were  done  and  the  most 
insistent  letters  answered  she  turned  to  Midstream, 
Poignant,  heartbreaking  days  out  of  the  past  swept 
over  her;  even  to  think  of  them  was  pain. 

She  had  known  for  many  years  that  she  would  one 
day  have  to  write  this  book,  and  had,  in  prepara- 
tion, jotted  down  in  braille  many  fragmentary  im- 


FOREWORD  xiii 

pressions.  Going  over  them  was  slow  work.  Never 
believe  one  who  tells  you  that  the  blind  can  read  as 
rapidly  as  the  seeing.  The  swiftest  ^nger  cannot  keep 
up  with  the  eye.  [Itjs  not  only  much  slower,  but  in- 
finitely more  laborious.  The  arm  grows  tired,  the 
ends  of  the  fingers  ache,  and  Miss  Keller  discovered 
that  the  friction  of  years  had  worn  down  the 
treacherous  little  dots  to  such  an  extent  that  in  marly 
cases  she  could  not  make  out  what  she  had  written. 

Much  of  her  material  was  not  in  braille.  The  let- 
ters from  Mark  Twain,  Dr.  Bell,  William  James, 
and  others  were  in  hand-  or  typewriting.  So  was 
most  of  the  data  on  the  blind  except  that  which  the 
American  Foundation  for  the  Blind  had  put  into 
raised  print.  Numbers  of  articles  and  stray  para- 
graphs of  her  own  she  had  typed,  thereby,  since  she 
had  at  the  same  time  destroyed  her  braille  notes, 
placing  them  forever  beyond  her  own  reach.  All  of 
this  Mrs.  Macy,  Miss  Thomson,  and  I  read  to  her 
by  means  of  the  manual  alphabet. 

Miss  Keller  had  not  been  long  at  work  before 
Mrs.  Macy  became  ill.  A  temporary  servant  was 
called  in.  Mrs.  Macy  became  much  worse.  The  doc- 
tors were  grave.  She  had  been  abusing  her  eyes.  They 
had  told  her  not  to  use  them.  Work  on  Midstream 
stopped  abruptly.  Nervous  and  anxious.  Miss  Keller 
paced  the  house  and  tramped  the  garden.  She  could 
not  read,  she  could  not  write,  she  could  not  even 


xiv         ^  FOREWORD 

think.  It  was  not  until  Mrs.  Macy  was  completely 
out  of  danger  that  the  autobiography  was  resumed. 

Most  of  the  time  Miss  Keller  composed  in  braille 
and  revised  in  braille.  Sometimes  she  composed 
directly  on  the  typewriter,  pricking  notations  at  the 
top  of  the  pages  with  a  hairpin  so  she  could  keep 
track  of  them.  Parts  she  was  most  uncertain  about  she 
kept  in  braille  a  long  time,  going  over  and  over  them. 
Often,  as  she  mulled  over  what  she  had  written,  she 
decided  to  write  it  again,  and  sometimes  the  second 
or  the  third  or  the  fourth  version  was  better  than  the 
first. 

The  mass  of  material  grew.  Thousands  of  pages 
lay  piled  on  the  floor  sprinkled  through  with  thou- 
sands of  directions:  "Put  this  with  what  I  have 
already  written  about  the  garden."  .  .  .  "Please 
see  if  the  letter  I  had  from  Mr.  Carnegie  in  1913 
will  not  fit  in  here."  ...  "I  think  this  quotation 
is  right,  but  perhaps  someone  should  verify  it.  It  is 
not  in  raised  print."  .  .  .  "These  paragraphs  may 
add  a  pleasant  touch  to  what  I  have  already  written 
about  Dr.  Bell." 

Under  Miss  Keller's  direction,  oral  and  written, 
the  typed  manuscript  was  rewritten  with  scissors  and 
paste,  Mrs.  Macy,  Miss  Thomson,  and  I  constantly 
spelling  back  to  her  pages,  paragraphs,  and  chapters. 
As  Miss  Keller  says,  it  was  like  putting  a  picture 
puzzle  together,  only  it  was  not  a  puzzle  one  could 


FOREWORD  XV 

hold  in  a  tray;  sometimes  it  seemed  as  big  as  the 
whole  city  of  New  York,  and  sometimes  it  seemed 
bigger  than  that.  When  we  had  finished  we  gave  it  to 
a  typist  to  copy  while  Miss  Keller  set  to  writing 
connecting  paragraphs  for  chapters  that  did  not  fit 
together  and  rewriting  parts  she  did  not  like  and  try- 
ing frantically  to  catch  up  with  the  outside  claims 
upon  her.  Once  she  left  Forest  Hills  at  eleven  o'clock 
in  the  morning,  delivered  an  address  in  Washington 
at  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon,  returned  immedi- 
ately to  Forest  Hills  where  she  arrived  so  late  that 
the  taxi  drivers  had  gone  to  bed,  walked  home  from 
the  station,  snatched  a  few  hours'  sleep,  and  went 
back  to  work  the  next  morning  at  eight  o'clock!  They 
were  heroic  days. 

Even  yet  the  book  was  to  her  a  thing  of  shreds 
and  patches.  Naturally,  our  work  did  not  begin  with 
page  one  and  run  through  to  the  end  the  way  the 
reader  has  it  now.  It  was  done  in  small  units  and 
with  many  interruptions.  When  the  typist  had  fin- 
ished, scissors  and  paste  were  once  more  brought 
out,  and  for  the  second  time,  under  Miss  Keller's 
direction,  the  manuscript  was  put  together,  after 
which  it  was  spelled  to  her  again  three  times  from 
beginning  to  end  while  she  made  still  further  alter- 
ations. In  galley  proofs  it  was  read  to  her  once  more 
and  for  the  last  time.  To  the  end  she  was  revising 
and  rewriting.  She  has  not  yet  read  the  book  with 


xvi  FOREWORD 

her  own  fingers ;  she  cannot  do  that  until  the  braille 

edition  is  printed. 

Of  the  content  perhaps  a  word  is  necessary.  The 
book  is  Miss  Keller's.  Doubts  concerning  the  authen- 
ticity of  her  accomplishment  have  long  since  been 
laid  to  rest,  even  in  Europe  where  for  many  years 
she  was  regarded  as  nothing  more  than  a  fine  ex- 
ample of  American  exaggeration.  It  is  only  those 
who  do  not  know  her  who  suggest,  now  and  then,  that 
it  is  Mrs.  Macy  who  tells  her  what  to  say.  Miss  Keller 
has  convictions  of  her  own,  and  a  stubborn  way  of 
hanging  on  to  them.  In  most  instances  they  are  not 
those  of  her  teacher.  Temperamentally  she  and  Mrs. 
Macy  are  utterly  dififerent,  and  the  word  "utterly"  is 
not  carelessly  used.  Each  has  chambers  in  her  mind 
that  the  other  does  not,  cannot,  penetrate.  No  one 
can  be  more  surprised  at  some  of  the  revelations  in 
this  book  than  the  woman  who  has  lived  in  daily 
association  with  Miss  Keller  for  the  last  forty  years. 

There  are  people  who  think  of  Miss  Keller  as  cut 
off  from  all  that  is  unpleasant,  living  in  a  happy 
realm  of  ideality  where  everything  is  as  it  should 
be.  This  has  never  been  true.  Six  months  after  she 
went  to  Alabama  Mrs.  Macy  wrote,  "From  the  be- 
ginning I  have  made  it  a  practice  to  answer  all 
Helen's  questions  to  the  best  of  my  ability  and  at  the 
same  time  truthfully." 

Much  has  been  made  of  the  fact  that  in  the  educa- 


FOREWORD 


xvii 


tion  of  Helen  Keller  Mrs.  Macy  followed  the 
methods  of  Dr.  Samuel  Gridley  Howe,  who  taught 
Laura  Bridgman.  It  is  true  that  they  both  used  the 
manual  alphabet  as  their  means  of  communication, 
but  it  is  also  true  that  neither  of  them  invented  it. 
Mrs.  Macy's  method  of  presenting  language  to  her 
pupil  was  unlike  Dr.  Howe's,  as  has  been  made  clear 
in  The  Story  of  My  Life.  As  for  the  difference  in 
method  after  language  was  acquired,  the  statement 
of  Mrs.  Macy's  I  have  just  quoted,  which  was  writ- 
ten when  Miss  Keller  was  seven  years  old  and  had 
been  under  instruction  four  months,  may  be  con- 
trasted with  this  from  Dr.  Howe  in  a  letter  to  Laura 
when  she  was  fifteen  years  old  and  had  been  under 
instruction  for  seven  years:  "Your  mind  is  young 
and  weak  and  cannot  understand  hard  things,  but  by 
and  by  it  will  be  stronger  and  you  will  be  able  to 
understand  hard  things."  Laura  had  asked  him  about 
"God  and  heaven  and  souls  and  many  questions." 

It  is  annoying  to  a  certain  type  of  mind  to  have 
Miss  Keller  describe  something  she  obviously  can- 
not know  through  direct  sensation.  The  annoyance 
is  mutual.  These  sensations,  whatever  expert  opinion 
on  them  may  be,  are  as  real  to  her  as  any  others.  Her 
idea  of  colour,  to  take  only  one  instance,  is  built  up 
through  association  and  analogy.  Pink  is  "like  a 
baby's  cheek  or  a  soft  Southern  breeze."  Gray  is 
"like  a  soft  shawl  around  the  shoulders."  Yellow  is 


xvili  FOREWORD 

^'like  the  sun.  It  means  life  and  is  rich  in  promise." 
There  are  two  kinds  of  brown.  One  is  "warm  and 
friendly  like  leaf  mould."  The  other  is  "like  the 
trunks  of  aged  trees  with  worm  holes  in  them,  or  like 
withered  hands."  Lilac,  which  is  her  teacher's 
favourite  colour,  "makes  her  think  of  faces  she  has 
loved  and  kissed."  The  warm  sun  brings  out  odours 
that  make  her  think  of  red.  Coolness  brings  out 
odours  that  make  her  think  of  green.  A  sparkling 
colour  brings  to  mind  soap  bubbles  quivering  under 
her  hand. 

In  her  descriptions  of  San  Francisco,  to  which  ob- 
jections are  sure  to  be  raised,  she  is  not  repeating 
something  she  has  been  told.  She  is  telling  what  she 
has  built  up  for  herself  out  of  the  descriptions  she 
has  read  and  those  that  have  been  spelled  to  her. 
In  what  way  her  picture  differs  from  ours  we  can- 
not say,  for  she  has  only  our  language  to  use  in  de- 
scribing it.  Mark  Twain  used  to  think  that  her  im- 
ages were  more  beautiful  and  gave  his  own  experi- 
ence with  Niagara  Falls  and  the  Taj  Mahal  to  prove 
it.  In  his  imagination  before  he  saw  them  Niagara 
Falls  were  "finer  than  anything  God  ever  thought 
of  in  the  way  of  scenery,"  and  the  Taj  Mahal  was  a 
"rat  hole"  compared  with  what  he  thought  it  would 
be.  "I  thank  God,"  he  said  one  day  after  Miss  Keller 
had  described  the  face  of  a  friend,  "she  can't  see."  ^ 

All  that  Miss  Keller  claims  for  her  world  is 


FOREWORD  xix 

that  there  is  a  workable  correspondence  between  it 
and  ours,  since  she  finds  no  incongruity  in  living  in 
both  at  the  same  time.  William  James  was  not  sur- 
prised at  this  correspondence.  I  think  few  phil- 
osophers are.  They  see  only  too  clearly  how  much  of 
what  we  all  know  and  feel  has  come  to  us  not  through 
personal  knowledge,  but  through  the  accumulated 
experience  of  our  ancestors  and  contemporaries  as 
it  is  handed  down  and  given  over  to  us  in  words.  She 
is,  thinks  Professor  Pierre  Villey,  himself  a  blind 
man,  and  a  most  careful  observer,  a  dupe  of  words, 
and  her  aesthetic  enjoyment  of  most  of  the  arts  is  "a 
matter  of  auto-suggestion  rather  than  perception." 
He  is  right,  but  this  is  true  of  all  of  us. 

It  has  been  doubted  that  Miss  Keller  can  enjoy 
sculpture,  since  it  is  addressed  to  the  eye,  yet  the 
sculptor's  own  contact  with  his  work  is  as  much  with 
the  hand  as  with  the  eye. 

Her  enjoyment  of  music  has  also  been  thrown 
open  to  question.  She  has  "listened"  with  her  fingers 
to  the  piano  and  the  violin  and  various  devices 
have  been  contrived  to  make  it  possible  for  her  to 
''hear"  an  orchestra.  Recently  she  has  been  listening 
over  the  radio  by  placing  her  fingers  lightly  on  a 
sounding  board  of  balsa  wood.  She  can  tell  when  the 
announcer  is  talking  and  she  has  learned  to  recognize 
station  WEAF  by  the  dogmatic  staccato  of  the  an- 
nouncer's voice  when  he  repeats  the  letters.  She  can 


XX  FOREWORD 

tell  whether  one  or  more  instruments  are  playing,  and 
very  frequently  can  tell  what  the  instruments  are. 
The  singing  voice  she  sometimes  confuses  with  the 
violin.  The  'cello  and  the  bass  viol  are  likewise  con- 
fused, but  there  is  never  a  mistake  in  the  rhythm  or 
the  general  mood  of  the  selection,  though  efforts 
have  been  made  to  trip  her  up  on  these  two  points. 

Miss  Keller's  impressions  of  the  world  have  come 
much  as  they  do  to  anyone,  only  the  mechanism  is 
different.  She  reads  with  her  fingers  instead  of  her 
eyes  and  listens  with  her  hands  instead  of  her  ears. 
Those  who  are  familiar  with  the  manual  alphabet 
generally  use  it  in  talking  to  her.  One  who  is  accus- 
tomed to  talking  in  this  way  talks  with  as  little  em- 
barrassment as  in  any  other.  Those  who  do  not  know 
the  manual  alphabet  talk  with  their  mouths  and  Miss 
Keller  listens  by  placing  her  fingers  lightly  on  the 
lips.  She  talks  with  her  mouth  and  is  readily  under- 
stood by  anyone  who  has  been  with  her  a  short  time. 
Her  voice  is  not  normal,  but  to  those  of  us  who  are 
used  to  it,  it  seems  no  more  abnormal  than  that  of  a 
person  with  a  marked  foreign  accent. 

So  far  as  tests  have  been  able  to  determine,  her 
sensory  equipment  is  in  no  way,  except  perhaps  in  the 
sense  of  smell,  superior  to  that  of  the  normal  person. 
She  seems  totally  without  the  sense  of  direction  which 
is  so  pronounced  in  some  of  the  deaf  blind.  In  her 
own  home,  which  is  not  large,  she  frequently  starts 


FOREWORD  xxi 

toward  the  opposite  wall  instead  of  the  door,  and 
orients  herself  by  contact  with  the  furniture.  When 
the  rugs  are  taken  up  she  is  completely  bewildered 
and  has  to  learn  the  whole  pattern  again.  Her  sense 
of  distance  is  also  poor.  She  does  not  know  when  she 
has  reached  the  door  until  she  has  run  into  it,  and 
in  winter  when  the  ground  is  covered  with  snow  and 
ice  her  daily  walk  becomes  a  mighty  adventure. 

Much  nonsense  has  been  written  about  her;  no 
doubt  much  more  will  be.  She  is  perfectly  aware  of 
it,  and  also  of  the  criticisms  that  have  been  levelled 
against  her.  No  attack  that  has  ever  been  made 
has  been  withheld  from  her.  I  think  she  has  come 
to  know  that,  in  judging  her,  mistakes  have  been  made 
on  both  sides.  We  have  been  trying  to  interpret  what 
she  feels  in  terms  of  what  we  feel,  and  she,  whose 
greatest  desire  has  always  been,  like  that  of  most  of 
the  handicapped,  to  be  like  other  people,  has  been 
trying  to  meet  us  half  way.  So  it  is  that  we  find 
ourselves  in  the  end  where  we  were  in  the  beginning, 
on  opposite  sides  of  a  wall.  Little  bits  have  crumbled 
away,  but  the  wall  is  still  there,  and  there  is  no 
way  to  break  it  down. 

Many  have  tried.  She  has  been  the  subject  of  much 
scientific  experimentation  and  philosophical  specu- 
lation. This  has  caused  a  great  deal  of  disturbance  in 
learned  minds,  for  she  has  a  disconcerting  way  of 
upsetting  nearly  all  preconceived  theories  about  her- 


xxii 


FOREWORD 


self.  Even  William  James  went  through  this  experi- 
ence. No  one  has  yet  said  the  final  word  about  her, 
except  in  one  particular.  William  James  did  that 
when  at  the  end  of  his  consideration  he  said,  "The 
sum  of  it  is  that  you  are  a  blessing,  and  I'll  kill  any- 
one who  says  you  are  not." 

Nella  Braddy. 


CONTENTS 

CHAPTER  PAGE 

I.  Tuning  In  i 

II.  Youth,  Oh,  Youth  7 

III.  My  First  Years  in  Wrentham  27 

IV.  Our  Mark  Twain  47 
V.  Leading  the  Blind  70 

VI.  Per  Ardua  Proxime  Ad  Astra  -  90 

\v^i     VII.  Wanderings  99 

VIII.  My  Oldest  Friend  107 

IX.  I  Capitulate  139 

X.  On  "The  Open  Road"  149 

"^  i  .  .^e^.  XI.  In  the  Whirlpool  169 

-  "^^ill.  I  Make  Believe  I  Am  an  Actress  186 

XIII.  The  Play  World  209  -W^^ 

^^  ^ir^XIV.  My  Mother  216 

^vv^/'^/XV.  Lux  in  Tenebris  /  224 

XVI.  Muted  Strings- ^  "  243 

XVII.  Varied  Chords  W  ^  262 

XVIII.  I  Go  Adventuring  295 

XIX.  Enchanted  Windows  313 

XX.  Thoughts  That  Will  Not  Let  Me  Sleep    3  29 

XXI.  My  Guardian  Angel  342 

Index  351 

.  xxiii 


LIST  OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 
Miss  Keller  and  Sieglinde  Frontispiece 

FACING  PAGE 

Miss  Keller's  home  at  Wrentham  36 

Miss  Keller,  Miss  Sullivan,  and  Dr.  Bell  132 

Miss  Keller,  Mrs.  Macy,  Miss  Thomson,  and 
Hans  164 

Miss  Keller  teaching  Charlie  Chaplin  the 
manual  alphabet  196 

Miss  Keller's  mother.  Miss  Sullivan  (Mrs. 
Macy),  Miss  Keller  220 

Miss  Keller  ^'listening"  to  the  violin  of  Edwin 
Grasse  284 

Miss  Keller  and  her  sister,  Mildred  308 


MIDSTREAM : 
MY    LATER  LIF 


MIDSTREAM: 
MY  LATER  LIFE 

Chapter  I 

T  U  N  I  N  G   I  N 

When  people  are  old  enough  to  write  their  memoirs, 
it  is  time  for  them  to  die,  it  seems  to  me.  It  would 
save  themselves  and  others  a  great  deal  of  trouble 
if  they  did.  But  since  I  have  the  indiscretion  to  be 
still  alive,  I  shall  add  to  their  burden  by  trying  to 
set  down  the  story  of  my  life  since  I  was  a  sopho- 
more at  Radcliffe  College. 

During  many  years  I  have  written  detached  notes 
on  whatever  has  interested  me,  in  all  kinds  of  moods, 
under  all  kinds  of  circumstances.  This  desultory 
manner  of  writing  is  temperamental  with  me.  I  like 
it  because  it  gives  me  a  chance  to  chat  and  laugh 
a  little  and  be  friendly  along  the  way. 

I  shall  not  attempt  to  follow  a  continuous  thread 
of  thought  or  give  a  special  message  in  these  pages. 
I  shall  not  pursue  any  one  idea  up  and  down  the 
labyrinths  of  the  mind.  It  is  my  wish  to  jot  down 
fugitive  thoughts  and  emotions,  and  let  them  bear 


2  MIDSTREAM 

what  they  will.  I  have  often  been  told  that  if  I 
would  put  more  such  fleeting  bits  of  life  into  words, 
I  might  add  somewhat  to  the  fund  of  sympathy, 
thought,  and  sincerity  from  which  men  draw 
strength  to  live.  So  if  what  grows  out  of  my  notes 
should  not  prove  bright  or  fair,  at  least  the  seed 
is  sweet — the  seed  of  my  friends'  encouragement. 

Since  I  have  been  at  work  upon  this  auto- 
biography, I  have  frequently  thought  of  the  occu- 
pation which  engaged  the  attention  of  my  friend 
Colonel  Roebling  the  latter  years  of  his  life.  He  was 
always  a  builder.  In  his  young  manhood  he  con- 
structed the  Brooklyn  suspension  bridge,  and  inci- 
dentally invalided  himself  by  staying  too  long  under 
water  in  one  of  the  caissons.  Years  later  when  I 
visited  him  in  Trenton,  New  Jersey,  he  showed  me 
with  much  enthusiasm  a  picture  which  he  was  build- 
ing out  of  little  bits  of  paper.  The  picture  repre- 
sented a  great  river  spanned  by  a  noble  bridge,  be- 
tween green  hills;  and  the  fleecy  clouds  of  a  sum- 
mer day  were  reflected  in  the  blue  waters.  Every 
tiny  bit  of  paper  was  tinted  and  shaped  to  fit  into  the 
design.  Great  patience  and  ingenuity  were  required 
to  assemble  the  thousands  of  bits  that  composed  the 
landscape  and  the  flowing  river.  From  a  little  tray 
he  painstakingly  selected  lights  and  shadows,  leaves 
and  ripples,  and  the  bridge's  flowing  spans. 

The  process  of  shaping  a  book  is  not  unlike 


TUNING  IN  3 

Colonel  Roebling's  picture-building.  Into  the  tray 
of  one's  consciousness  are  tumbled  thousands  of 
scraps  of  experience.  That  tray  holds  you  dismem- 
bered, so  to  speak.  Your  problem  is  to  synthesize 
yourself  and  the  world  you  live  in,  with  its  moun- 
tains and  streams,  its  oceans  and  skies,  its  volcanoes, 
deserts,  cities  and  people,  into  something  like  a  co- 
herent whole.  The  difficulty  multiplies  when  you 
find  that  the  pieces  never  look  the  same  to  you  two 
minutes  in  succession.  You  pick  them  up,  and  find 
that  they  are  "sicklied  o'er"  with  sentiment,  with  old 
beliefs  and  relationships.  With  each  new  experience 
you  pass  through,  they  undergo  strange  transmuta- 
tions. I  put  together  my  pieces  this  way  and  that; 
but  they  will  not  dovetail  properly.  When  I  succeed 
in  making  a  fairly  complete  picture,  I  discover 
countless  fragments  in  the  tray,  and  I  do  not  know 
what  to  do  with  them.  The  longer  I  work,  the  more 
important  these  fragments  seem;  so  I  pull  the  pic- 
ture apart  and  start  it  all  over  again.  I  trace  the 
irregular  lines  of  experience  through  the  design,  and 
wonder  at  the  queer  conjunctions  of  facts  and  im- 
aginings. My  sense  of  the  fitness  of  things  demands 
that  there  should  be  some  degree  of  beauty  in  the 
composition;  but  alas,  I  am  driven  finally  to  the 
realization  that  the  elements  which  went  into  the 
shaping  of  my  life  were  not  as  carefully  tinted  and 
shaped  as  those  in  Colonel  Roebling's  picture.  Per- 


4  MIDSTREAM 

haps,  to  the  eye  of  the  Creator,  there  may  be  sym- 
metry and  purpose  and  fulfilment;  but  the 
individual  perceives  only  fragments  incongruously 
mingled  together,  and  blank  spaces  v^hich  one  feels 
should  be  filled  by  something  noble,  dramatic,  or  ex- 
traordinary. 

The  first  part  of  The  Story  of  My  Life  was  v^rit- 
ten  in  the  form  of  daily  and  fortnightly  themes  in 
English  22  at  Radcliffe  College  under  Professor 
Charles  Townsend  Copeland.  I  had  no  idea  of  pub- 
lishing them  and  I  do  not  remember  how  Mr.  Bok 
became  interested  in  them.  I  only  know  that  one 
morning  I  was  called  out  of  my  Latin  class  to  meet 
Mr.  William  Alexander  of  the  Ladies'  Home  Jour- 
nal If  I  remember  rightly,  Mr.  Alexander  said  that 
Mr.  Bok  wished  to  publish  The  Story  of  My  Life  in 
monthly  installments.  I  told  him  that  it  was  out  of 
the  question,  as  my  college  work  was  all  I  could 
manage.  His  answer  surprised  me.  "You  have  already 
written  a  considerable  part  of  it  in  your  themes." 

"How  in  the  world  did  you  find  out  I  was  writ- 
ing themes?"  I  exclaimed.  He  laughed  and  said  it 
was  his  business  to  find  out  such  things.  He  talked 
so  optimistically  about  how  easily  the  themes  could 
be  connected  to  form  magazine  articles  that,  with- 
out having  a  very  clear  idea  of  what  I  was  doing,  I 
signed  an  agreement  to  furnish  the  Ladies'  Home 
Journal  with  The  Story  of  My  Life  in  monthly  in- 


TUNING  IN  5 

stallments  for  three  thousand  dollars.  At  the  moment 
I  thought  of  nothing  but  the  three  thousand  dollars. 
There  was  magic  in  those  three  words.  In  my  im- 
agination the  story  was  already  written.  Indeed,  it 
had  already  found  a  sure  place  in  "The  Golden 
Treasury  of  Literature."  My  happiness  and  conceit 
knew  no  bounds.  Everything  went  smoothly  at  first. 
I  had  already  written  a  number  of  themes  which 
Mr.  Copeland  had  read  and  criticized.  He  had 
also  made  suggestions  which  I  was  able  to 
use  in  the  first  chapter.  But  the  day  was  not  far 
distant  when  I  found  that  I  had  used  all  the  suitable 
themes.  I  was  in  deep  water,  and  frightened  out  of 
my  wits.  I  was  utterly  inexperienced  in  the  prepara- 
tion of  magazine  articles.  I  did  not  know  how  to 
cut  my  material  to  fit  the  given  space.  I  had  no  idea 
that  the  time  limit  was  of  such  importance  until 
telegrams  began  to  come,  thick  and  fast,  like  greedy 
birds  to  a  cherry  tree.  Special  delivery  letters  filled 
the  chorus  of  dismay :  "We  must  have  the  next  chap- 
ter immediately."  "There  is  no  connection  between 
page  six  and  page  seven.  Wire  the  missing  part." 
Mr.  Bok  told  me  years  afterwards  that  the 
people  in  Dante's  Inferno  had  a  pleasant  time  of 
it  compared  with  what  the  staff  of  the  Ladies'  Home 
Journal  endured  while  my  story  was  on  its  way.  He 
said  he  resolved  then  never  again  to  start  publish- 
ing a  serial  until  he  had  the  whole  manuscript  in  his 


6  MIDSTREAM 

hands;  he  told  me  a  few  years  ago  that  he  never  had. 
When  things  were  at  the  worst,  my  friend,  Lenore 
Kinney,  who  had  just  married  Philip  Sidney  Smith, 
a  classmate  of  John  Macy's,  told  me  about  Mr. 
Macy.  She  described  him  as  extremely  clever, 
and  just  the  sort  of  knight  errant  to  deliver 
me  from  the  jaws  of  this  dilemma.  At  that  time,  Mr. 
Macy  was  an  English  instructor  at  Harvard  Uni- 
versity. He  had  classes  in  Radclifife  also,  but  I  did 
not  know  him.  Lenore  arranged  for  us  to  meet.  I 
liked  him;  he  was  eager,  intelligent,  gentle.  He  un- 
derstood my  difficulties,  and  promptly  set  about  re- 
lieving me  of  them.  We  went  over  the  material  I  had 
^accumulated,  which  was  in  the  state  of  original 
chaos.  Quickly  and  skillfully  he  brought  the  re- 
calcitrant parts  to  order;  and  we  constructed  a  tol- 
erably coherent  and  readable  chapter  in  a  few  hours. 
Mr.  Bok  hailed  him  as  a  deus  ex  machina,  and  from 
that  time  on  the  Journal  got  its  "copy"  in  fairly  good 
time. 

Mr.  Macy  was  a  writer  himself,  with  a  keen,  well- 
stored  mind,  and  his  advice  was  most  precious  to  me. 
He  was  a  friend,  a  brother,  and  an  adviser  all  in  one, 
and  if  this  book  is  not  what  it  should  be,  it  is  be- 
cause I  feel  lonely  and  bewildered  without  his  sup- 
porting hand. 


Chapter  II 
YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH 

In  The  Story  of  My  Life  I  went  quite  fully  into 
my  struggle  for  admission  to  Radclifife  College.  In 
these  pages,  therefore,  I  shall  merely  summarize  my 
experiences  and  impressions. 

I  knew  that  there  would  be  obstacles  to  conquer ; 
but  they  only  whetted  my  desire  to  try  my  strength 
by  the  standards  of  normal  students.  I  thought  that 
in  college  I  should  touch  hands  with  girls  who  were 
interested  in  the  same  subjects  that  I  was,  and  who 
were  trying  like  me  to  hew  out  their  own  paths  in 
life.  I  began  my  studies  with  enthusiasm.  I  entered 
the  lecture  halls  in  the  spirit  of  the  young  men  who 
gathered  about  Socrates  and  Plato.  Here  were  cup- 
bearers "of  the  wine  that's  meant  for  souls"  who 
would  answer  all  the  questions  that  perplexed  me. 

But  soon  I  found  that  my  great  expectation  had 
sprung  from  inexperience.  I  was  reminded  of  the 
upright  divisions  between  the  shelves  in  the  library 
in  a  house  where  I  lived  while  attending  the  Oilman 
School  for  Girls.  When  my  teacher  and  I  first  saw 
them  she  exclaimed,  "What  beautiful  books!  Just 
feel  them."  I  touched  the  handsome  volumes  and 


8  MIDSTREAM 

read  some  of  the  titles,  which  were  so  richly  embossed 
that  I  could  distinguish  the  letters.  But  when  I  tried 
to  take  one  of  them  down  I  found  that  they  were 
imitation  books,  all  bound  and  lettered  in  gold  to 
look  like  Chaucer,  Montaigne,  Bacon,  Shakespeare, 
and  Dante.  That  is  the  way  I  felt  as  the  days  in  college 
passed,  and  my  dreams  faded  into  a  rather  drab 
reality. 

Two  insurmountable  obstacles  confronted  me 
throughout  my  college  course — lack  of  books  in 
raised  letters,  and  lack  of  time.  Most  of  the  required 
books  Miss  Sullivan  read  to  me,  spelling  into  my 
hand.  Often  when  every  one  else  in  the  house  was 
asleep,  she  and  I  were  busy  with  our  books,  trying 
to  catch  up  with  the  day's  reading.  Generous  friends 
like  Mr.  H.  H.  Rogers  and  Mr.  William  Wade 
would  gladly  have  had  the  books  specially  made  for 
me  but  often  I  could  not  find  out  from  the  profes- 
sors what  books  I  would  need  in  time  to  have  them 
transcribed.  No  such  splendid  service  as  that  offered 
by  the  Red  Cross  was  available  for  blind  students 
twenty-five  years  ago.  If  it  had  been  there  would 
have  been  fewer  shadows  of  discontent  and  more  lib- 
erty in  my  work. 

Books  that  were  not  in  braille  had  to  be  read  to 
me  by  means  of  the  manual  alphabet  as  rapidly  as 
possible  in  order  that  I  might  keep  up  with  the 
classes.  I  was  a  slow  student  and  it  tried  my  patience 


YOUTH, OH, YOUTH  9 

not  to  be  able  to  read  for  myself  the  passages  I 
especially  wanted,  as  often  as  I  pleased.  Miss  Sulli- 
van was  ever  at  my  side,  not  only  reading  to  me  and 
spelling  the  lectures  into  my  hand  but  looking  up 
words  in  Latin,  German,  and  French  dictionaries. 
She  was  not  familiar  with  any  of  these  languages, 
and  to  this  day  I  marvel  how,  with  her  imperfect 
sight,  she  accomplished  such  an  arduous  task. 

Each  volume  in  braille — and  I  remember 
especially  ''Othello,"  ''A  Winter's  Tale,"  "Henry 
IV,"  ''Henry  V,"  and  the  Sonnets,  parts  of  Livy  and 
Tacitus,  Plautus's  plays,  and  the  poetry  of  Catullus, 
selections  from  Pope,  Dryden,  Addison,  and  Steele, 
and  the  poets  to  whose  divine  songs  I  still  withdraw 
from  the  discords  of  the  world :  Keats,  Wordsworth, 
Browning,  and  Shelley — was  a  treasure  island  to  me, 
and  it  was  an  inexpressibly  sweet  sense  of  inde- 
pendence I  had  preparing  some  lessons  from  pages 
over  which  I  could  sprawl  my  fingers  and  gather  the 
material  for  a  theme  or  an  examination. 

As  I  look  back  upon  it,  it  seems  to  me  that,  my 
own  special  difficulties  aside,  we  were  all  in  too  much 
of  a  hurry.  It  was  like  rushing  through  Europe  on  a 
summer  holiday.  I  caught  only  fleeting  gleams  of 
the  blaze  and  glory  of  Elizabethan  literature,  the 
satire  and  the  wit  of  Swift,  Johnson,  and  Goldsmith, 
and  the  splendour  of  the  Nineteenth  Century  poets 
as  they  poured  out  their  exuberant  messages  of 


lo  MIDSTREAM 

spiritual  power,  cheer,  and  courage  from  nature, 
from  men,  and  from  the  Divine  Life  breathing 
through  all  things.  But  in  the  harvest  of  my  later 
years  it  is  a  delight  to  remember  those  v^andlike 
touches  of  fancy,  w^isdom,  and  imagination  by  which 
my  soul  was  set  aflame  1 

The  noble  men  and  women  of  history  and  poetry 
moved  and  breathed  before  me  vividly  on  the  pic- 
ture screen  of  time.  Generals,  kings,  and  Holy  Al- 
liances did  not  concern  me  much;  I  could  not  see 
what  good  could  result  from  the  ruthless  destruction 
wrought  by  the  Alexanders,  Caesars,  and  Napoleons, 
but  my  imagination  glowed  as  I  beheld  Socrates 
fearlessly  teaching  the  youth  of  Athens  the  truth  and 
drinking  the  fatal  cup  rather  than  surrender.  Colum- 
bus's sublime  perseverance  as  he  sailed  chartless  seas 
with  an  unfriendly  crew  quickened  my  sense  of  ad- 
venture in  exploring  and  perhaps  mapping  a  dark, 
soundless  world.  I  had  always  loved  Joan  of  Arc 
with  a  tender  reverence,  and  her  beautiful,  tragic 
figure  in  Schiller's  play,  in  English  and  French  his- 
tory, and  in  essays  by  men  of  widely  different  tem- 
peraments, her  simple  wisdom  that  cut  through  all 
entangling  arguments,  her  undaunted  faith  in  the 
midst  of  betrayal  and  cruelty,  revealed  to  me  new 
heights  and  glories  of  womanhood.  She  has  remained 
very  close  to  me — "One  of  the  few  whom  God 
whispers  in  the  ear." 


YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH  ii 

With  many  an  amazing  scene  the  vast  drama  of 
the  ages  unfolded  before  me— empires  rising  and 
falling,  old  arts  giving  way  to  new  ones,  races 
strangely  fused  out  of  the  fragments  of  ancient  peo- 
ples, heroic  doers  and  thinkers  pouring  life  and  en- 
ergy into  the  Dark  Ages,  scholars  defying  church 
and  state,  taking  the  wanderer's  staff  in  hand,  suffer- 
ing and  perishing  that  paths  might  be  cleared  to 
higher  goals  of  truth.  Fascinated,  I  watched  how 
new  ideas  appeared,  waxed  great,  and  waned.  I 
lost  all  sense  of  stability  in  earthly  things,  but  I 
was  reassured  by  the  thought  that  the  mind  of  man 
that  unmakes  what  is  made  can  also  withdraw  into 
itself  and  find  peace.  This  resource  was  the  elixir 
vitae  I  gained  from  another  study  that  I  took  up 
at  Radcliffe  College,  philosophy. 

I  was  so  happily  at  home  in  philosophy,  it  alone 
would  have  rendered  those  four  difficult  years  worth 
while.  As  a  spring  rain  makes  the  fields  greener,  so 
my  inner  world  grew  fair  beneath  the  shower  of  new 
ideas  that  fell  from  the  magic  words  of  the  sages!  I 
had  faith  and  imagination;  but  philosophy  taught 
me  how  to  keep  on  guard  against  the  misconceptions 
which  spring  from  the  limited  experience  of  one 
who  lives  in  a  world  without  colour  and  without 
sound.  I  gained  strength  for  my  groping  belief  from 
thinkers  who  saw  with  their  eyes,  heard  with  their 
earSj  touched  with  their  hands  and  perceived  the 


12  MIDSTREAM 

untrustworthiness  of  the  senses  even  in  the  best 
equipped  human  being.  Socrates's  discourses  on 
knowledge,  friendship,  and  immortality  I  found  in- 
tensely absorbing  and  stimulating,  so  full  were  they 
of  truth  and  poetry  in  declaring  that  the  real  world 
exists  only  for  the  mind.  Plato  made  me  happily 
aware  of  an  inner  faculty — an  "Absolute"  which 
gives  beauty  to  the  beautiful,  music  to  the  musical, 
and  truth  to  what  we  call  true,  and  thus  creates 
order  and  light  and  sound  within  us,  no  matter  what 
calamity  may  afflict  us  in  the  outer  world.  I  was  de- 
lighted to  have  my  faith  confirmed  that  I  could  go 
beyond  the  broken  arc  of  my  senses  and  behold  the 
invisible  in  the  fullness  of  light,  and  hear  divine 
symphonies  in  silence.  I  had  a  joyous  certainty  that 
deafness  and  blindness  were  not  an  essential  part  of 
my  existence,  since  they  were  not  in  any  way  a  part 
of  my  immortal  mind. 

But  this  idea  was  faith  only  until  I  came  to 
Descartes's  maxim,  "I  think,  therefore  I  am."  I 
realized,  then,  that  my  "absolute"  was  not  merely  a 
possession,  but  an  instrument  of  happiness.  I  rose  up 
actively  on  my  little  island  of  limitations  and  found 
other  ways  to  bridge  over  the  dark,  silent  void 
with  concepts  of  a  light-flooded,  resonant  universe. 
In  other  words,  I  used  my  inner  senses  with  a 
stronger  will  to  dominate  the  deaf,  blind  being  grop- 
ing its  way  through  a  welter  of  objects,  sensations, 


YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH  13 

and  fragmentary  impressions.  Before  this,  through 
some  obtuseness  I  had  failed  to  *'take  hold"  of 
the  higher  consciousness  which  enlarges  life  to  in- 
finity. But  those  five  direct,  emphatic  words,  "I  think, 
therefore  I  am,"  waked  something  in  me  that  has 
never  slept  since. 

Kant  and  Emerson  led  me  farther  on  the  road  to 
emancipation.  I  had  often  before  felt  bound  by 
my  lack  of  hearing  and  sight  to  such  an  extent  that  I 
doubted  if  I  could  ever  have  an  adequate  concep- 
tion of  what  others  saw  and  heard.  My  crippled 
senses  and  I  seemed  at  times  to  be  one  and  insepa- 
rable, and  I  could  not  see  clearly  how  my  ideas  or 
testimony  of  things  I  touched  could  be  taken 
seriously.  I  was  told  that  nine  tenths  of  the  human 
being's  impressions  came  to  him  through  his  eyes  and 
ears,  and  I  wondered  if  my  friends  and  I  would  ever 
be  able  to  understand  each  other.  However  lovingly 
our  hearts  might  meet,  there  appeared  to  be  an  im- 
passable gulf  between  us.  The  crowded  experience  of 
our  so-different  lives  obstructed  many  of  the  natural 
channels  of  understanding.  I  thought  I  must  seem 
almost  like  a  ghost  to  the  strong,  confident  senses  that 
ruled  the  world,  but  when  I  penetrated  into  the  im- 
material realm  which  is  the  world  of  philosophy,  I 
gained  a  cheerful,  reconciling  view  of  our  situa- 
tions. I  apprehended  the  truth  of  what  Kant  said, 
that  sensations  without  concepts  are  barren,  and 


14  MIDSTREAM 

concepts  without  sensations  are  empty.  I  put  more 
thought  and  feeling  into  my  senses ;  I  examined  as  I 
had  not  before  my  impressions  arising  from  touch 
and  smell,  and  was  amazed  at  the  ideas  with 
which  they  supplied  me,  and  the  clues  they  gave  me 
to  the  world  of  sight  and  hearing.  For  example,  I 
observed  the  kinds  and  degrees  of  fragrance  which 
gave  me  pleasure,  and  that  enabled  me  to  imagine 
how  the  seeing  eye  is  charmed  by  different  colours 
and  their  shades.  Then  I  traced  the  analogies  be- 
tween the  illumination  of  thought  and  the  light  of 
day,  and  perceived  more  clearly  than  I  ever  had  the 
preciousness  of  light  in  the  life  of  the  human  being. 
This  way  of  thinking  helped  me  later  when  critics 
of  my  writings  asked,  "But  how  can  she  know  about 
life?"  .  .  .  "How  can  she  know  what  it  means 
to  an  adult  person  to  lose  his  sight,  and  what  kind 
of  help  he  especially  needs  when  she  has  not  had  his 
special  experiences?"  .  .  .  "What  right  has  she  to 
write  about  landscapes  she  can't  see?"  and  other 
questions  that  showed  how  little  they  knew  of  the 
foundations  upon  which  I  was  building  up  closer 
associations  with  normal  people. 

Another  shower  of  thoughts  that  refreshed  my 
life-garden  fell  when  I  read  in  Kant  that  time  and 
space  are  not  fixed,  immutable  elements,  but  change- 
able ways  of  experiencing  life.  Like  most  people  I 
had  felt  the  spell  of  the  senses  to  such  a  degree  that 


YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH 

the  walls  of  time  and  space  seemed  very  solid  and 
inescapable,  and  that  made  it  harder  for  me  to  sit 
still  and  wait  when  I  wanted  to  be  up  and  getting 
somewhere.  But  when  I  found  that  I  could  over- 
leap time  and  space,  crowd  years  of  remembrance 
into  an  hour,  or  lengthen  an  hour  into  eternity,  I  saw 
my  true  self  as  a  free  spirit  throwing  into  the  winds 
the  bonds  of  body  and  condition  and  matter.  With 
Emerson  I  read  a  great  poem  or  listened  to  a  sub- 
lime utterance,  or  held  the  perfection  of  a  flower  in 
my  hand,  and  instantly  I  was  over  the  walls  of  mortal 
life,  speeding  through  the  uplands  of  boundless 
beauty.  It  was  in  the  joy  of  these  new  thoughts  that 
I  wrote  Optimism  and  The  World  I  Live  In. 
For  it  was  Emerson  who  revealed  to  me  the  romance 
in  Kant's  abstract  words,  and  made  it  easier  for  me 
afterwards  to  read  Swedenborg's  discourses  on  time 
and  space.  I  did  not  then  know  the  importance  of 
philosophy  as  a  star  in  lonely  hours  and  dark  pas- 
sages of  my  life ;  and  now  it  is  a  delight  to  recall  how 
many  times  it  has  kept  me  happy  in  the  face  of  per- 
plexing questions  about  my  little  world,  and  how 
often  it  has  made  as  my  own  the  pleasure  of  another 
in  wonders  beyond  the  reach  of  my  two  sealed  senses! 

It  was  a  disappointment  to  me  that  I  did  not  have 
closer  contact  with  my  professors.  Most  of  them 
seemed  as  impersonal  as  victrolas.  I  never  met  Dean 


i6  MIDSTREAM 

Briggs,  although  I  lived  next  door  to  him,  nor  did 
I  ever  meet  Dr.  Eliot.  He  signed  my  diploma,  but 
so  far  as  I  know,  this  was  the  extent  of  his  interest  in 
me. 

Among  the  four  or  five  members  of  the  faculty 
who  took  a  personal  interest  in  me  were  Professor 
Bartlett,  who  taught  German,  Dr.  William  Allan 
Neilson,  who  is  now  President  of  Smith  College, 
Professor  Royce,  and  Professor  Charles  T.  Cope- 
land.  My  teacher  and  I  saw  much  of  Dr.  Neilson 
outside  the  college.  He  and  his  sweet  sister  invited 
us  to  tea  sometimes,  and  their  friendliness  to  us  both 
was  delightful.  Dr.  Neilson  is  a  charming  Scot  with 
an  irrepressible  sense  of  humour  and  a  spirited  way 
of  lecturing  on  the  glories  of  Elizabethan  literature. 
He  was  the  only  professor  who  learned  the  manual 
alphabet  so  that  he  might  talk  with  me.  I  have  not 
seen  him  as  much  as  I  would  like  in  recent  years, 
but  his  friendship  has  continued  to  this  day. 

Mr.  Copeland  was  not  a  professor  when  I  was 
at  Radcliffe,  but  he  was  a  great  force.  His  power  lay, 
I  think,  in  an  elusive  charm  difficult  to  put  into 
words — the  charm  of  a  unique  personality.  They  told 
me  his  voice  was  capable  of  conveying  poignant  emo- 
tion. I  could  follow  it  in  the  ebb  and  flow  of  my 
teacher's  fingers.  I  never  knew  any  one  who  could 
by  a  mere  word  or  phrase  express  so  much.  His  way 
of  talking  was  often  Carlylesque,  and  his  wit  was 


YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH  17 

incisive.  But  even  when  he  read  our  trivial  themes 
and  unimportant  opinions  there  was  a  kindly  toler- 
ance beneath  his  whimsical  mannerisms.  He  greatly 
lightened  the  dark  ways  of  my  understanding  of 
composition,  and  his  words  of  praise  are  among  the 
most  precious  encouragements  I  have  ever  had  in 
my  work. 

Professor  Royce  was  so  unfailingly  detached  that 
he  seemed  more  like  a  statue  of  Buddha  than  a 
human  being,  but  his  serene  nature,  the  kindness  of 
his  greetings,  and  the  nobility  of  his  social  ideas, 
which  he  afterwards  embodied  in  his  book.  The 
Philosophy  of  Loyalty,  make  me  wish  I  might  have 
known  him  better. 

I  enjoyed  the  history  course  under  Professor 
Archibald  Gary  Coolidge,  but  I  never  talked  with 
him.  He  was  singularly  shy.  Once  when  I  wanted 
to  ask  him  a  question  Miss  Sullivan  stopped  him  just 
as  he  was  leaving  his  desk.  He  was  so  frightened  that 
she  had  to  repeat  the  question  twice.  His  answer  was 
utterly  incoherent,  and  he  rushed  out  of  the  room 
as  soon  as  he  had  given  it.  To  me  he  never  seemed 
a  personality.  His  words  came  as  out  of  a  book  read 
aloud,  but  few  of  my  professors  were  so  enlightening. 
After  my  undergraduate  days  he  served  on  several 
missions — the  American  Peace  Delegation,  the 
American  Economic  Mission,  and  the  American  Re- 
lief Administration  in  Russia  in  192 1.  It  is  no  exag- 


i8  MIDSTREAM 

geration  to  say  that  he  outshone  many  of  his  more 
talked  of  compatriots. 

The  barrier  of  my  physical  handicap  lay  between 
me  and  my  classmates.  Only  one  of  them  learned  to 
talk  with  me  on  her  fingers,  but  they  had  many 
charming  ways  of  showing  their  friendliness.  At 
Mrs.  Hogan's  lunch  room,  where  we  ate  sandwiches 
and  chocolate  eclairs  they  gathered  around  me  and 
Miss  Sullivan  spelled  their  bright  chatter  into  my 
hand.  The  girls  made  me  vice-president  of  our  class. 
If  my  work  had  not  been  so  strenuous  I  should  prob- 
ably not  have  missed  so  much  of  the  lighter  side  of 
the  college  life. 

One  of  my  classmates.  Bertha  Meckstroth,  learned 
to  write  braille,  and  in  her  free  moments  copied 
Elizabeth  Barrett  Browning's  Sonnets  from  the  Por- 
tuguese for  me.  This  was  just  before  I  graduated, 
and  I  never  saw  or  heard  from  her  afterwards.  But  I 
treasure  the  lovely  deed  as  a  precious  memento  of 
my  college  days. 

Another  episode  I  like  to  recall  was  a  surprise 
my  class  planned  for  me.  One  day  several  girls  in- 
vited me  to  go  with  them  to  see  some  jolly  friends 
in  Brookline.  That  was  all  they  would  tell  me,  and 
when  we  reached  our  destination,  they  were  very 
mysterious.  I  began  to  sniff,  and  in  a  moment  I 
realized  that  instead  of  a  human  habitation  we  were 


YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH  19 

entering  a  kennel,  the  abode  of  many  Boston  terriers. 
The  dogs  gave  us  a  royal  welcome,  and  one  ugly 
beauty,  heir  of  a  noble  pedigree,  with  the  title  of  Sir 
Thomas  Belvedere,  bestowed  upon  me  his  special 
favour,  planting  himself  resolutely  at  my  feet,  pro- 
testing with  his  whole  body  if  I  touched  any  other 
dog.  The  girls  asked  me  if  I  liked  him.  I  said  I 
adored  him. 

*Take  him  home  then,"  they  said.  ^'He  is  our  gift 
to  you." 

Sir  Thomas  seemed  to  understand;  for  he  began 
spinning  round  and  round  me  like  a  top.  When  he 
had  quieted  down  a  little  I  told  him  I  did  not  care 
much  for  titles.  He  assured  me  that  he  had  no  ob- 
jection to  changing  his  name,  and  when  I  told  him 
that  I  was  going  to  call  him  Phiz  he  rolled  over 
thrice  by  way  of  showing  his  approval.  So  we  car- 
ried him  happily  back  with  us  to  Cambridge. 

We  were  living  at  that  time  at  14  Coolidge  Avenue, 
in  part  of  a  house  which  had  once  been  a  fine  man- 
sion. It  was  picturesquely  situated  on  a  knoll,  almost 
hidden  by  great  trees,  facing  Mt.  Auburn  Street, 
and  so  far  back  that  the  trolley  cars  and  traffic  never 
disturbed  us.  The  home  of  James  Russell  Lowell  was 
near  by.  Dear  Bridget  kept  house  for  us  and  was 
always  there  to  open  the  door  and  bid  us  welcome. 

The  land  behind  was  utilized  by  a  florist  to  raise 
several  crops  of  flowers  in  the  season — pansies,  mar- 


20  MIDSTREAM 

guerites,  geraniums,  and  carnations.  The  fragrance 
was  heavenly,  and  when  Italian  women  and  chil- 
dren in  bright-coloured  dresses  and  shawls  came 
to  pick  the  flowers  for  the  market,  and  waked 
us  with  their  laughter  and  song  it  was  Uke  being  in 
an  Italian  village.  What  an  unusual  scene  it  was  in 
the  heart  of  a  busy  city — women  with  their  arms  full 
of  carnations — not  mere  pictures,  but  live  women 
with  the  fresh  colour  of  country  life  in  their  cheeks 
and  large  dark  eyes  and  coils  of  black  hair — and 
children  carrying  baskets  of  bright  geraniums  and 
chattering  like  birds — their  happy  voices  and  expres- 
sive gestures,  and  the  whiffs  of  sweetness  from  the 
many  flowers  1 

While  we  were  in  Cambridge  we  made  the  ac- 
quaintance of  a  number  of  students  and  young  in- 
structors at  Harvard.  Some  of  them  learned  the 
manual  alphabet,  which  made  real  companionship 
possible,  and  we  had  no  end  of  delightful  times  to- 
gether. Among  them  was  Philip  Sidney  Smith,  who 
is  now  Chief  Alaskan  Geologist  of  the  National 
Geological  Survey  in  Washington.  His  wife,  Lenore, 
was  one  of  our  most  staunch  friends,  and  she  helped 
me  in  my  studies  or  went  with  me  to  the  lectures 
when  Miss  Sullivan  was  ill  or  tired.  Then  there 
was  John  Macy,  who  afterwards  married  my  teacher, 


YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH  21 

and  whose  name  remains  forever  a  part  of  all  that  is 
most  precious  in  our  lives. 

What  zest  v^e  had  for  life  in  those  days!  We 
thought  nothing  of  a  ten  mile  tramp  over  country 
roads  or  a  forty  mile  ride  on  our  tandems.  Every- 
thing interested  us — the  autumn  v^oods  bright  v^ith 
jewelled  leaves  and  sparkling  sunlight,  the  migrat- 
ing birds,  the  squirrels  gathering  their  winter  stores, 
the  wild  apple  trees  raining  their  fruit  upon  our 
heads,  the  Medford  marshes  spangled  with  sapphire 
pools  and  red  cat-tails. 

But  my  memories  are  not  all  of  summer  weather, 
with  the  odours  of  meadow,  field,  and  orchard  float- 
ing out  to  us  on  balmy  breezes.  Winter,  too,  brought 
its  delights.  On  clear  nights  we  used  to  go  sleighing 
in  Shay's  express  wagon  which  had  been  put  on  run- 
ners and  filled  with  sweet-smelling  hay.  Patrick  held 
the  prancing  horses  until  we  climbed  in,  but  no 
sooner  were  we  seated  than  they  sprang  forward, 
and  we  sped  away,  to  the  music  of  the  sleigh  bells,  to 
a  universe  of  snow  and  stars! 

And  the  homecoming!  How  inviting  was  the  cosy 
warmth  that  breathed  in  our  faces  as  dear  Bridget 
opened  the  door  for  us,  her  sweet,  patient  face  alight 
with  welcome!  How  good  the  smell  of  coffee  and 
muffins!  How  jolly  the  confusion  of  rushing  about 
and  putting  the  supper  on  the  table,  everyone  getting 


22  MIDSTREAM 

in  Bridget's  way.  But  she  only  smiled  the  more, 
happy  in  our  youth.  I  cannot  think  of  Cambridge 
without  thinking  of  Bridget's  continual  bestowal  of 
herself  in  loving  service  to  my  teacher  and  me. 

Many  times  during  the  long  winter  evenings  we 
sat  around  an  open  fire  with  a  circle  of  eager,  im- 
aginative students,  drinking  cider,  popping  corn,  and 
joyously  tearing  to  pieces  society,  philosophies,  re- 
ligions, and  literatures.  We  stripped  everything  to 
the  naked  skeleton.  Fortunately,  the  victims  of  our 
superior  criticism  were  unaware  of  our  scorn  and 
even  of  our  existence.  We  did  not  proclaim  our 
opinions  to  the  dull  world,  but  enjoyed  them  the 
more  keenly  within  the  seclusion  of  our  little  circle. 
We  were  passionately  independent.  All  of  us  were 
individualists,  yet  all  of  us  responded  to  the  altruistic 
movements  of  the  time.  We  believed  in  the  rising 
tide  of  the  masses,  in  peace,  and  brotherhood,  and  "a 
square  deal"  for  everybody.  Each  one  of  us  had  an 
idol  around  whom  our  theories  revolved  like  planets 
around  the  sun.  These  idols  had  familiar  names- 
Nietzsche,  Schopenhauer,  Karl  Marx,  Bergson, 
Lincoln,  Tolstoi,  and  Max  Stirner.  We  read  Shelley, 
Whitman,  and  Swinburne.  The  more  we  read  and 
discussed,  the  more  convinced  we  were  that  we  be- 
longed to  that  choice  coterie  who  rise  in  each  age, 
and  manage  to  attain  freedom  of  thought.  We  felt 
that  undoubtedly  we  were  a  group  of  modern  pio- 


YOUTH,  OH,  YOUTH  23 

neers  who  had  risen  above  our  materialistic  sur- 
roundings. Despite  a  dismal  dearth  of  inspiration, 
we  succeeded  in  living  a  life  rich  in  thought  and 
spiritual  experience.  From  our  lofty,  lonely  heights 
we  looked  down  upon  our  fellow  students  with  pity 
akin  to  that  which  the  angels  feel  for  mortals.  What 
a  wealth  of  wit  and  wisdom  we  lavished  upon  each 
other!  And  the  endless  discussions  that  darkened 
counsel!  For  each  of  us  had  a  panacea  to  turn  this 
barren  world  into  a  paradise,  and  each  defended  his 
special  kingdom  with  argument  flashed  against 
argument  in  true  duelling  fashion.  Nonchalantly  we 
swept  empires  into  the  dust  heap,  and  where  they 
had  flourished  we,  with  astounding  ease,  established 
perfect  democracies.  In  these  democracies  all  the 
inhabitants  were  to  display  great  eagerness  to  leave 
behind  commonplace  existence.  Practical  problems 
were  left  to  take  care  of  themselves — as  they  are 
in  most  Utopias. 

Oh,  young  days,  young  days,  what  are  you  saying 
to  me  out  of  the  Long  Ago?  March  winds  off  Fresh 
Pond,  a  hat  gone  to  the  fishes!  April  showers 
on  the  Concord  road,  two  friends  under  one  mackin- 
tosh! May  days  in  the  Middlesex  Fells,  following  the 
delicate  scent  of  the  trailing  arbutus!  A  hatless  youth 
spelling  his  gay  talk  into  eager  hands,  unmindful  of 
wondering  sedate  folk  taking  their  carriage  exer- 
cise! It  was  a  joy  to  feed  the  squirrels  with  nuts  and 


24  MIDSTREAM 

sit  by  the  roadside  and  count  the  birds.  They  do  not 
seem  to  be  so  many  now,  and  they  do  not  sing  as 
merrily  as  they  did  when  Carl  imitated  their  liquid 
notes  for  me. 

But  I  must  move  on.  I  must  not  appear  to  my 
reader  an  old  woman  living  over  again  the  events  of 
her  youth. 

There  was  another  side  to  my  experience  in  Rad- 
clifife  College  which  I  must  present  here  if  I  am  to 
remove  some  of  the  errors  which  have  arisen  with 
regard  to  my  life  in  Cambridge  and  the  details  of  my 
graduation.  It  has  been  said  that  praises  and  honours 
were  showered  upon  Miss  Sullivan  and  me  by  all 
who  saw  us  grappling  with  our  difficulties.  I  have 
before  me  a  sympathetic  article  in  French,  which 
contains  a  description  of  the  ceremony  in  which  I 
received  the  degree  of  Bachelor  of  Arts. 

Une  foule  immense  emplissait  ce  jour-la  le  theatre  ou  avait  lieu 
la  fete  du  College.  Plusieurs  autres  etudiantes  allaient  aussi 
recevoir  des  diplomes,  mais  toutes  les  attentions,  tous  les  regards, 
tous  les  coeurs  etaient  fixes  sur  la  gracieuse  jeune  fille  .  .  .  qui  se 
tenait  au  premier  rang  au  milieu  de  scs  compagnes.  Miss  Sullivan, 
assise  a  cote  d'elle,  partageait  naturellement  I'heure  de  son 
triomphe,  comme  elle  avait  partage  les  jours  et  les  annees  de  son 
penible  labeur  .  .  .  Lorsqu'on  appela  le  nom  d'Helen,  maitrcssc 
et  eleve,  ou  plutot  mere  et  fille  spirituelles,  la  main  dans  la  main, 
monterent  ensemble  les  degres  de  I'estrade.  Au  milieu  de  tonnerres 
d'applaudissements  frenetiques  qu'elle  ne  pouvait  entendre,  mais 


YOUTH, OH, YOUTH 


^5 


dont  elle  sentait  resonner  les  echos,  la  jeune  fille  regut  le  precieux 
diplome  portant  cette  mention  speciale — "Non  seulement  a  subi 
avec  succes  les  examens  de  tous  grades  universitaires,  mais  excelle 
en  litterature  anglaise."* 

The  words  about  my  teacher  are  true.  The  best 
part  of  my  success  was  having  her  by  my  side  who 
had  kept  me  steadfast  to  my  purpose.  But  the  rest  of 
the  account  is  the  stuff  that  myths  are  made  of.  There 
were  no  huge  crowds  filling  the  hall  that  June  after- 
noon. Only  a  few  friends  came  especially  to  see  me. 
My  mother  was  prevented  by  illness  from  being  with 
me  on  that  occasion,  and  her  disappointment  was  as 
bitter  as  my  own.  Dean  Briggs  delivered  the  usual 
commencement  address,  but  he  did  not  mention  Miss 
Sullivan.  In  fact,  none  of  the  faculty  spoke  either  to 
her  or  to  me.  When  I  received  my  diploma,  I  felt  no 
^'thunder  of  wild  applause."  It  was  nothing  like  the 
imposing,  brilliant  ceremony  which  has  been  pictured 
in  some  accounts  of  my  college  days.  Several  of  the 
students,  when  they  took  off  their  caps  and  gowns, 

*0n  that  day  an  immense  crowd  filled  the  auditorium  where  the 
commencement  exercises  were  held.  Other  students  were  to  receive 
diplomas  but  all  attention,  all  looks,  all  hearts  were  fixed  on  the  lovely 
young  girl  who  held  first  rank  among  her  companions.  Miss  Sullivan, 
seated  beside  her,  naturally  shared  the  hour  of  her  triumph  as  she  had 
shared  the  days  and  years  of  her  strenuous  labour.  When  the  name 
of  Helen  was  called,  mistress  and  pupil,  or  rather  spiritual  mother  and 
daughter,  hand  in  hand,  mounted  the  steps.  In  the  midst  of  thunders  of 
frantic  applause  which  she  could  not  hear  but  of  which  she  felt  the 
echo,  the  young  girl  received  the  precious  diploma  carrying  this  special 
mention:  "Not  only  has  she  passed  successfully  the  university  examina- 
tions, but  she  excels  in  English  literature." 


26  MIDSTREAM 

expressed  indignation,  and  one  sweet  girl  declared 
that  Miss  Sullivan  should  have  received  a  degree,  too. 
We  had  come  in  to  our  seats  quietly  that  afternoon, 
and  we  went  out  as  soon  as  we  could,  caught  a  street 
car  and  hastened  away  to  the  fragrant  peace  of  the 
lovely  New  England  village  packed  with  summer 
time,  where  we  were  already  settling  down  to  live. 
That  evening  I  was  gliding  out  on  Lake  Wollomona- 
poag  in  a  canoe  with  some  friends,  forgetting  my 
weariness  and  the  strange  ways  of  the  world  in 
dreams  of  beauty,  the  odours  which  the  breezes 
carried  to  me  from  unseen  flowers,  and  starlit  silence, 
and  little  green  hills  sloping  down  to  the  water.  May 
it  ever  be  thus,  may  I  always  return  after  the  clamour 
and  agitation  of  eventful  days  to  the  great  kindliness 
of  earth  and  sky  and  restful  twilight! 


Chapter  III 


MY  FIRST  YEARS   IN  WRENTHAM 

The  French  article  from  which  I  have  quoted  says 
that  I  was  given  a  home  in  Wrentham  by  the  public, 
who  wished  to  honour  me  as  the  ancients  did  when 
they  bestowed  upon  a  victorious  general  an  estate 
where  he  could  live  and  enjoy  his  laurels : 

Boston,  la  ville  la  plus  intellectuelle  I'Athenes  des  Etats 
Unis,  a,  au  lendemain  de  ses  examens  offert  cette  maison  en 
hommage  a  la  jeune  fille  qui  a  remporte  une  victoire  sans  pareille 
de  I'esprit  sur  la  matiere,  de  lame  immortelle  sur  les  sens.* 

Others  who  have  tried  to  describe  the  house  with- 
out knowing  it  have  added  an  extensive  park  and  a 
wonderful  garden.  No  such  pomp  and  circumstance 
marked  my  triumphal  entrance  into  the  village  of 
Wrentham.  Miss  Sullivan  and  I  had  already  bought 
a  small,  old  farmhouse,  long  and  narrow,  decidedly 
Puritanical  in  appearance,  with  a  neglected  field  of 
seven  acres.  Miss  Sullivan  converted  a  dairy  room 

*Boston,  the  most  intellectual  city,  the  Athens  of  the  United  States, 
had  on  the  day  after  the  examinations  offered  this  house  in  homage  to 
the  young  girl  who  had  won  a  victory  without  parallel  of  the  spirit  over 
matter,  the  immortal  soul  over  the  sense. 


27 


28  MIDSTREAM 

and  two  pantries  into  a  study  for  me.  The  French 
article  describes  it  as  follows : 

Helen  Keller  passe  la  plupart  de  ses  journees  dans  son  elegant 
cabine  de  travail,  orne  de  bronzes  et  d'objets  d'art  offerts  pars  ses 
adorateurs,  et  dont  les  murs  disparaissent  du  haut  en  bas  sous  des 
centaines  et  des  centaines  de  gros  volumes  au  pages  blanches 
couvertes  de  points  en  relief — ses  chers  livres  in  Braille.* 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  study  was  very  simple. 
The  only  ''works  of  art"  were  a  plaster  Venus  di  Milo 
which  my  foster-father,  Mr.  John  Hitz,  had  given  me, 
a  bas-relief  medallion  of  Homer,  a  gift  from  Dr. 
Jastrow  of  the  University  of  Wisconsin,  and  some 
curios  sent  to  me  by  friends  from  foreign  countries. 
Only  one  wall  "disappeared"  behind  large  volumes  of 
braille,  and  that  did  not  mean  hundreds  of  books.  In 
most  cases  there  were  three,  four,  or  five  big  volumes 
to  a  book.  They  were  few  enough  in  comparison  with 
what  I  wanted,  but  to  any  one  as  hungry  for  ideas  as 
I  was  any  bit  of  honest  thinking  was  a  treasure  trove. 
The  chief  attractions  of  the  study  were  sunshine,  the 
big  eastern  window  full  of  plants  I  tended,  and  a 
glass  door  through  which  I  could  step  out  into  a 
cluster  of  pines  and  sit  alone  with  my  thoughts  and 
my  dreams. 

*Helen  Keller  passes  the  greater  part  of  her  days  in  her  elegant 
workroom  ornamented  with  bronzes  and  objets  d'art  presented  by  her 
admirers,  with  walls  which  from  top  to  bottom  disappear  behind  hun- 
dreds and  hundreds  of  huge  volumes  with  white  pages  covered  with 
points  in  relief — her  dear  books  in  braille. 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  29 

Miss  Sullivan  had  a  balcony  built  for  me  which 
opened  out  of  my  bedroom  so  that  I  could  walk 
whenever  I  wanted  to.  The  evergreens  came  so  close 
to  the  railing  I  could  lean  over  and  feel  their  rustling 
music.  It  was  on  this  balcony  that  I  once  "heard"  the 
love  song  of  a  whippoorwill.  I  had  been  walking  up 
and  down  for  an  hour  or  more,  pausing  every  now 
and  then  to  breathe  the  scented  air  of  May.  At  the 
south  end  I  could  reach  out  and  touch  a  wisteria 
vine  which  clung  to  the  rail  with  long,  tenacious 
fingers.  At  the  opposite  end  I  faced  the  garden  and 
the  apple  trees,  which  were  in  full  bloom,  and  oh, 
so  heavenly  sweet!  I  was  standing  under  the  wisteria 
vine  with  my  thoughts  far  away  when  suddenly  the 
rail  began  to  vibrate  unfamiliarly  under  my  hands. 
The  pulsations  were  rhythmical,  and  repeated  over 
and  over,  exactly  as  I  have  felt  a  note  repeated  when 
I  have  placed  my  fingers  on  a  singer's  throat.  All  at 
once  they  ceased,  and  I  felt  the  wisteria  blossom 
ticking  against  my  cheek  like  the  pendulum  of  a 
fairy  clock.  I  guessed  that  a  breeze  or  a  bird  was 
rocking  the  vine.  Then  the  rail  began  vibrating  again. 
A  queer  beat  came  always  before  the  rhythmical 
beats,  like  nothing  I  had  ever  felt  before.  I  did  not 
dare  move  or  call,  but  Miss  Sullivan  had  heard  the 
sound  and  put  out  her  hand  through  the  window  and 
touched  me  very  quietly.  I  knew  I  must  not  speak. 

She  spelled,  "That's  a  whippoorwill.  He  is  stand- 


30  MIDSTREAM 

ing  on  the  corner  post  so  close  to  you  I  believe  you 
could  touch  him;  but  you  must  not — he  would  fly 
away  and  never  come  back." 

Now  that  I  knew  he  was  saying  ^'Whip-poor-will! 
Whip-poor-will"  over  and  over  I  could  follow  the 
intonations  exactly.  The  singing  seemed  joyous  to 
my  touch,  and  I  could  feel  the  notes  grow  louder  and 
louder,  faster  and  faster. 

Miss  Sullivan  touched  me  again  and  spelled,  "His 
lady-love  is  answering  him  from  the  apple  trees. 
Apparently,  she  has  been  there  all  the  time,  hiding. 
Now  they  are  singing  a  duet." 

When  the  rail  stopped  vibrating  she  spelled,  "They 
are  both  in  the  apple  tree  now  singing  under  billows 
of  pink  and  white  blossoms." 

We  paid  for  this  house  in  Wrentham  and  the 
alterations  by  selling  some  shares  of  sugar  stock 
which  Mr.  J.  P.  Spaulding  of  Boston  had  given  us 
about  ten  years  before.  I  feel  moved  to  say  something 
here  about  one  who  took  the  most  generous  interest 
in  us  both  at  a  time  when  we  needed  a  strong  friend. 

I  was  nine  years  old,  I  think,  when  Elsie  Leslie 
Lyde,  the  beautiful  child  actress  who  played  "Little 
Lord  Fauntleroy,"  introduced  us  to  Mr.  Spaulding. 
He  was  so  tender  and  understanding,  he  won  me  at 
once,  and  from  that  day  he  was  eager  to  do  anything 
for  our  comfort  or  pleasure.  He  liked  to  come  to  the 
Perkins  Institution  when  we  stayed  there,  and  join 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  31 

in  our  midday  meal.  He  always  brought  a  big  box 
of  roses,  or  fruits  or  candies.  He  took  us  for  long 
drives,  and  Elsie  accompanied  us  when  she  was  not 
appearing  at  the  theatre.  She  was  a  lovely,  vivacious 
child,  and  Mr.  Spaulding  beamed  with  delight  to 
see  '^his  two  darlings  together."  I  was  just  learning 
to  speak,  and  it  distressed  him  very  much  because 
he  could  not  understand  what  I  said.  I  practised 
saying  ''Elsie  Leslie  Lyde"  one  day,  and  kept  on 
until  I  cried;  but  I  wanted  Mr.  Spaulding  to  hear 
me  say  it  intelligibly,  and  I  shall  never  forget  his 
joy  when  I  succeeded.  Whenever  I  failed  to  articu- 
late well,  or  there  was  too  much  noise  for  him  to  hear 
me,  he  would  hug  me  and  say,  "If  I  can't  understand 
you,  I  can  always  love  you,"  and  I  know  he  did  with 
a  deep  affection.  Indeed,  he  was  beloved  by  many 
people  in  every  walk  of  life.  Elsie  called  him  "King 
John,"  and  he  was  a  king  in  spirit,  royal  and  noble 
of  heart. 

Mr.  Spaulding  assisted  my  teacher  and  me  finan- 
cially for  a  number  of  years.  He  told  us  many  times 
that  he  would  provide  for  our  future.  But  he  died 
.  without  making  any  provision  for  us  in  his  will,  and  / 
his  heirs  refused  to  continue  the  help  he  had  given 
us.  Indeed,  one  of  his  nephews  said  that  we  had  taken 
advantage  of  his  uncle  when  he  was  not  in  a  condition 
to  know  his  own  mind ! 

I  see  I  have  again  wandered  far  afield;  but  I 


3^  MIDSTREAM 

could  not  patss  over  in  silence  a  rare  and  beautiful 
generosity  which  imposed  no  obligations  upon  us, 
nor  asked  anything  in  return,  except  the  satisfaction 
of  having  us  happy. 

Somehow  Mr.  Spaulding  seemed  very  near  indeed 
when  we  threw  open  the  doors  and  windows  of  our 
home — the  first  home  of  our  own — to  the  June  sun- 
shine and  started  our  new  life  full  of  bright  hopes 
for  the  future. 

On  May  2,  1905,  the  year  after  my  graduation,  my 
teacher  married  John  Macy.  She  had  devoted  the 
best  years  of  her  womanhood  to  me,  and  I  had  often 
longed  to  see  her  blessed  with  a  good  man's  love ;  I 
felt  the  tenderest  joy  in  their  union.  Dr.  Edward 
Everett  Hale,  one  of  our  oldest  and  closest  friends, 
performed  the  ceremony  in  the  sunny,  flower-filled 
sitting  room  of  our  white  farmhouse,  and  I  stood 
beside  my  teacher.  Lenore  spelled  the  ceremony 
into  my  hand.  My  mother  and  a  few  close  friends 
were  present.  Then  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Macy  left  for 
their  wedding  trip  to  New  Orleans,  and  I  went  south 
with  my  mother  for  a  visit.  A  few  days  later  we  were 
delightfully  surprised  to  see  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Macy 
walking  into  the  house!  My  cup  ran  over!  It  seemed 
like  a  dream,  having  them  with  me,  revelling  in  the 
beauty  of  early  summer  in  the  Southland.  The  air 
was  laden  with  the  odour  of  magnolias,  and  they 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  33 

kept  saying  how  heavenly  the  song  of  the  mocking 
birds  was — they  called  it  their  wedding  music.  When 
we  were  all  back  in  Wrentham,  I  heard  that  several 
people  thought  I  was  jealous  and  unhappy,  and  one 
letter  of  condolence  was  actually  inflicted  upon  me! 

I  wish  I  could  engrave  upon  these  pages  the  pic- 
ture in  my  fingers  that  I  cherish  of  those  two  friends 
— my  teacher  with  her  queenly  mind  and  heart, 
strong  and  true,  going  direct  to  the  core  of  the  subject 
under  discussion,  her  delight  in  beauty,  her  enthu- 
siasm for  large  service  and  heroic  qualities;  her 
husband  with  his  brotherly  tenderness,  his  fine  sensi- 
bilities, his  keen  sense  of  humour,  and  his  curious 
combination  of  judicial  severity  and  smiling  toler- 
ance. Since  I  was  out  of  active  life,  they  both  strove 
to  keep  my  narrow  round  pleasant  and  interesting. 
Both  had  a  magical  way  of  breaking  up  the  monotony 
for  me  with  bright  comments  and  rapid,  frequent 
reports  of  what  I  could  not  see  or  hear.  And  such  a 
difference  as  there  was  in  the  way  each  talked!  My 
teacher's  comments  on  scenes  and  news  and  people 
were  like  nuggets  of  gold,  lavishly  spilled  into  my 
hands,  while  her  husband  put  his  words  together 
carefully,  almost  as  if  he  were  writing  a  novel.  He 
often  said  he  wanted  to  write  a  novel,  and  certainly 
there  was  material  for  one  in  his  brilliant  conversa- 
tion. His  hands  were  seldom  still,  and  even  when  he 
was  not  spelling  to  me  I  could  tell  by  his  gestures 


34  MIDSTREAM 

whether  he  was  arguing  or  joking  or  simply  carry- 
ing on  an  ordinary  conversation. 

I  cannot  enumerate  the  helpful  kindnesses  with 
which  he  smoothed  my  rugged  paths  of  endeavour. 
Once,  when  my  typewriter  was  out  of  order,  and  I 
was  tired  with  the  manual  labour  of  copying,  he  sat 
up  all  night,  and  typed  forty  pages  of  my  manuscript, 
so  that  they  might  reach  the  press  in  time. 

Next  to  my  teacher,  he  was  the  friend  who  dis- 
covered most  ways  to  give  me  pleasure  and  gratify 
my  intellectual  curiosity.  He  kept  me  faithfully  in 
touch  with  the  chief  happenings  of  the  day,  the  dis- 
coveries of  science,  and  the  new  trends  in  literature. 
If  he  was  particularly  pleased  with  a  book,  he  would 
have  Mr.  John  Hitz  put  it  into  braille  for  me,  or 
he  would  read  it  to  me  himself  when  he  had  time. 

Not  long  after  we  moved  to  Wrentham  Mr.  Gilder 
asked  me  to  write  a  series  of  essays  for  the  Century 
about  my  ideas  of  the  world  around  me.  The  essays 
appeared  in  the  magazine  under  the  title,  "Sense  and 
Sensibility,"  but  as  Jane  Austen  had  used  that  title 
for  one  of  her  books,  I  called  them  the  The  World  I 
Live  In  when  they  came  out  in  book  form.  I  do  not 
remember  writing  anything  in  such  a  happy  mood 
as  The  World  I  Live  In,  I  poured  into  it  everything 
that  interested  me  at  one  of  the  happiest  periods  of 
life — my  newly  discovered  wealth  of  philosophy 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  35 

and  the  feeling  of  the  New  England  beauty  which 
surrounded  me.  I  had  always  revelled  in  the  won- 
ders of  nature;  but  I  had  not  dreamed  what  abun- 
dance of  physical  enjoyment  I  possessed  until  I  sat 
down  and  tried  to  express  in  words  the  lacy  shadows 
of  little  leaves,  the  filmy  wings  of  insects,  the  murmur 
of  breezes,  the  tremulous  flutter  of  flowers,  the  soft- 
breathing  breast  of  a  dove,  filaments  of  sound  in  the 
waving  grass,  and  gossamer  threads  intertwining  and 
unreeling  themselves  endlessly. 

The  next  book  I  wrote  was  The  Song  of  the  Stone 
Wall,  The  idea  of  writing  it  came  to  me  with  the  joy 
of  spring  while  we  were  building  up  the  old  walls  in 
our  green  field.  In  it  I  tried  to  image  the  men  who 
had  built  the  walls  long  ago.  I  dedicated  the  book  to 
Dr.  Edward  Everett  Hale  because  he,  too,  loved  the 
old  walls  and  the  traditions  that  cling  about  them. 
Moreover,  the  zeal  of  the  men  who  built  them  was 
upon  his  lips  and  their  courage  in  his  heart. 

While  I  was  writing  these  books  Mr.  Macy  was 
always  near  by  to  help  me.  He  criticized  me  severely 
when  my  work  did  not  please  him,  and  his  praise 
was  sweet  when  I  wrote  something  he  liked.  We  read 
the  pages  over  and  over,  weeding  out  the  chaff,  until 
he  thought  I  had  done  my  best.  'When  one's  best 
is  not  satisfactory,"  he  would  say,  "there  is  nothing 
to  do  about  it." 

He  had  the  art  of  pulling  me  out  of  a  solemn  or 


36  MIDSTREAM 

discouraged  mood  with  laughter  that  leaves  the 
heart  light  and  soothes  the  ruffled  mind.  I  used  to 
love  to  ramble  or  drive  with  him  along  the  winding 
roads  of  Wrentham.  With  a  gesture  of  delight  he 
would  point  out  a  pond  smiling  like  a  babe  on  earth's 
breast,  or  a  gorgeous  bird  on  the  wing,  or  a  field  full 
of  sunshine  and  ripening  corn,  or  we  would  sit  to- 
gether under  the  Great  Oak  on  the  edge  of  Lake 
Wollomonapoag  while  he  read  to  me  from  one  of 
Thoreau's  bopks.  There  are  no  words  to  tell  how 
dear  he  was  to  me  or  how  much  I  loved  him.  Little 
incidents  hardly  noticed  at  the  time  but  poignantly 
remembered  afterwards  crowd  upon  me  as  I  write. 
On  a  still  summer  evening  or  by  a  winter  fire,  my 
thoughts  still  wander  back  to  those  days  and  dwell 
with  sweet  longing  on  the  affection  of  those  two 
friends  sitting  beside  me  in  the  library,  their  hands  in 
mine,  dreaming  of  a  bright  future  of  mutual  helpful- 
ness. I  can  never  quite  accustom  myself  to  the  be- 
wildering vicissitudes  of  life,  but,  despite  the  shadows 
upon  it,  both  my  teacher  and  I  feel  that  all  that  was 
loveliest  in  the  Wrentham  days  is  ours  forever. 

When  we  went  to  Wrentham  to  live  I  had  in  my 
mind  a  vision  of  a  real  farm,  like  my  father's  in 
Tuscumbia,  Alabama,  where  I  could  live  in  the 
midst  of  the  strong,  abiding  simplicity  of  homely 
things  among  trees  and  crops  and  animals. 


Miss  Keller  s  home  at  Wrentham.  Ahovey  the  entrance, 
showing  the  stone  wall  which  Miss  Keller  helped  build. 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  37 

The  only  animal  we  owned  was  Phiz,  whom  wc 
carried  with  us  from  Cambridge.  He  died  a  year 
after  we  moved  to  Wrentham.  We  buried  him  at 
the  end  of  the  field  under  a  beautiful  white  pine 
tree.  I  grieved  for  him  a  long  time,  and  resolved 
never  to  have  another  dog.  But  everybody  knows 
how,  in  the  course  of  time,  the  proverbial  other 
dog  arrives.  Kaiser  was  his  name.  He  was  a  sturdy 
French  bull  terrier.  A  friend  of  Mr.  Macy's 
presented  him  to  the  family.  Having  lived  all 
the  days  of  his  three  years  with  a  man.  Kaiser  was  at 
first  inclined  to  assume  a  supercilious  attitude  to- 
wards women  folk.  He  pondered  over  what  we  said 
to  him,  and  usually  decided  that  it  might  be  ignored. 
We  undertook  to  teach  him  he  must  obey  in  order 
to  eat.  But  he  found  out  quickly  that  apples  could 
be  used  as  a  substitute  for  meat  and  bread.  He  learned 
to  hold  an  apple  between  his  paws  and  eat  it  with  a 
good  deal  of  gusto.  But  when  he  fully  made  up  his 
mind  that  he  could  not  maintain  the  fallacy  of  mascu- 
line superiority  in  an  establishment  where  the  femi- 
nine forces  outnumbered  the  males  three  to  one,  he 
surrendered  all  the  major  points,  also  his  pretence 
that  he  had  a  special  fondness  for  apples,  though  to 
the  end  he  retained  a  certain  masculine  swagger 
which  was  not  unbecoming. 

There  is  not  much  to  tell  about  Kaiser.  His 
fate  confirms  the  story  of  modern  civilization.  He 


38  MIDSTREAM 

found  food  abundant  and  obtainable  without 
exertion;  therefore  he  took  advantage  of  every  op- 
portunity to  gourmandize.  Both  dogs  and  human 
beings  find  this  a  pleasant  pastime,  but  they  must 
make  up  their  minds  that  sooner  or  later  they  will 
die  of  it. 

A  similar  fate  overtook  some  Rhode  Island  Reds, 
which  we  bought  from  Mr.  Dilley,  our  next  door 
neighbour,  who  was  a  bird  fancier.  I  fed  them  my- 
self, and  they  soon  became  very  tame.  It  was  fun  to 
watch  them,  but  after  a  while  I  noticed  that  they  sat 
down  to  their  meals,  and  it  was  very  hard  to  get 
them  to  move  about.  Our  neighbour  was  called  to 
give  advice.  He  declared  that  I  had  overfed  them  to 
such  an  extent  that  he  doubted  if  Mr.  Pierce,  our 
marketman,  would  take  them.  I  was  so  disappointed 
with  the  little  gourmands  I  gave  up  the  idea  of  ever 
trying  to  raise  chickens  again. 

But  it  seemed  a  shame  to  waste  the  enclosure  we 
had  put  up  with  so  much  trouble  and  expense.  So 
we  bought  Thora,  a  beautiful  brindle  Dane.  I  knew 
it  would  be  easier  to  raise  puppies;  and  anyway  I 
loved  dogs  better  than  chickens.  In  due  time  Thora's 
eleven  puppies  arrived.  Of  course  I  had  not  dreamed 
that  there  would  be  so  many,  or  that  they  would  be 
so  mischievous. 

I  have  not  space  to  give  a  detailed  account  of  the 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  39 

upbringing  of  that  family  of  Dane  puppies.  They 
were  as  temperamental  as  poets  and  musicians  are 
supposed  to  be.  There  was  one  everybody  singled  out 
as  the  gem  of  the  clan.  We  called  her  Sieglinde  and 
lavished  special  care  and  affection  upon  her.  Her 
colour  was  red  gold,  and  her  head  was  moulded  on 
noble  lines.  Of  all  the  dogs  we  have  ever  owned  she 
was  the  most  beautiful  and  intelligent,  and  I  am  not 
belittling  my  splendid  Danish  baron,  Hans,  nor  my 
fascinating,  perverse  Scotch  lassie.  Darky,  who  are 
clamouring  at  the  door  of  my  study  as  I  write. 

In  the  meantime  there  was  the  barn — a  fine,  large 
barn  with  no  living  creature  in  it.  It  did  not  seem 
right  that  there  should  be  no  livestock  to  enjoy  it. 
We  began  to  read  the  advertisements  in  the  Boston 
Transcript,  We  were  surprised  to  find  how  many 
fine  animals  were  without  a  comfortable  home.  The 
tears  actually  came  to  my  eyes  when  I  heard  of  a 
lady  who  was  going  abroad,  and  must  leave  her  noble 
Great  Dane  to  the  mercy  of  strangers.  She  said  that 
if  some  one  who  loved  animals  would  only  give 
Nimrod  a  home,  she  would  part  with  him  for  seventy- 
five  dollars,  which  was  like  giving  him  away.  We 
wrote  the  lady  that  we  should  be  glad  to  take  Nim- 
rod. It  was  arranged  that  Mr.  Macy  should  meet  her 
and  Nimrod  at  the  North  Station  in  Boston.  Mrs. 
Macy  and  I  waited  at  home. 


40  MIDSTREAM 

I  have  never  seen  such  a  huge  dog.  He  was  more 
like  a  young  elephant  than  a  dog.  Mr.  Macy  insisted 
that  he  should  be  left  out  on  the  porch  until  we  found 
out  what  his  upbringing  had  been,  but  we  could  not 
think  of  such  inhospitality  to  a  stranger  within  our 
gates.  The  door  was  flung  open,  and  Nimrod  was 
invited  to  enter.  There  was  a  small  table  with  a  lamp 
on  it  near  the  door.  In  passing  it,  he  knocked  it  over. 
Fortunately  the  lamp  was  not  lighted — in  those  days 
we  used  kerosene — or  I  suppose  the  house  would 
have  been  burned.  As  it  was,  the  crash  frightened  the 
poor  dog,  so  that  he  charged  into  the  dining  room, 
knocking  Mr.  Macy's  supper  off  and  the  dishes  all 
over  the  room.  With  great  difficulty  Mr.  Macy  suc- 
ceeded in  getting  the  terrified  creature  out  to  the  barn. 
Family  relations  were  somewhat  strained  that  eve- 
ning, and  I  did  not  learn  much  of  what  happened, 
except  that  the  conductor  on  two  trains  had  refused 
to  let  Nimrod  on,  and  that  he  had  caused  a  stam- 
pede in  the  waiting  room  of  the  station. 

Thora  would  have  nothing  to  do  with  him.  She 
even  growled  at  him  when  he  tried  to  make  friends 
with  the  puppies.  Out  in  the  field  Nimrod  seemed 
contented  to  be  by  himself;  but  somebody  noticed 
that  he  was  eating  stones.  There  were  too  many 
stones  in  the  field.  Our  distress  was  not  caused  by 
any  regret  over  their  disappearance,  but  we  were 
concerned  about  Nimrod's  digestion.  We  sent  for 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  41 

our  neighbour,  Dr.  Brastow,  the  state  veterinarian. 
He  controlled  his  feelings  wonderfully  when  he  gave 
us  the  report  of  his  diagnosis. 

"The  dog,"  he  said,  "is  about  fourteen  years  old. 
He  has  no  teeth,  and  very  little  sight.  Probably  he 
thinks  the  stones  are  bones.  His  former  owner  was, 
no  doubt,  too  tender-hearted  to  have  him  put  to 
sleep."  However,  we  thought  our  friend  rather  heart- 
less when  he  proposed  to  do  forthwith  that  which 
had  been  left  undone.  Still  it  seemed  best. 

It  was  some  time  before  we  began  to  read  the  ad- 
vertisements in  the  Transcript  again.  But  inevitably 
history  repeats  itself.  We  had  a  marvellous,  versatile 
gift  of  forgetting  previous  unfortunate  ventures  and 
joyously  entering  upon  new  ones.  There  is  nothing 
to  be  said  in  favour  of  this  gift,  except  that  it  lends 
spice  to  life.  The  day  came  when  we  felt  that  we 
must  have  a  horse,  and  that  very  day  we  read  a 
column  of  advertisements  of  wonderful  horses  which 
could  be  purchased  for  half  or  a  third  of  what  they 
would  naturally  sell  for;  but  their  owners  were  in 
various  difficulties,  and  wanted  to  part  with  them  for 
stated  amounts.  The  horse  we  decided  to  buy  was 
described  as  a  spirited  dark  bay;  weight,  11 50 
pounds;  age,  six  years;  gentle,  fearless,  broken  to 
saddle,  suitable  for  a  lady  to  drive  or  ride. 

We  three  innocents  went  to  Boston  to  see  the 
horse.  The  stable  man  said  the  owner  was  out  of 


42  MIDSTREAM 

town,  but  he  showed  us  the  horse,  and  certainly  the 
animal  was  a  beauty.  His  coat  was  as  smooth  as  satin 
and  he  held  his  head  so  high  I  could  scarcely  reach 
his  ears.  One  of  his  feet  was  white,  and  there  and 
then,  with  several  endearing  pats  and  caresses,  I 
christened  him  Whitefoot.  We  paid  for  him  on  the 
spot,  and  it  was  arranged  that  a  boy  should  ride  him 
out  to  Wrentham.  We  learned  afterwards  that 
Whitefoot  had  thrown  the  boy  three  times  on  the 
way ;  but  he  never  said  a  word  to  us.  The  next  morn- 
ing Mr.  Macy  hitched  the  horse  to  a  light  Democrat 
wagon  we  had,  and  started  for  the  village.  He  had 
not  got  out  of  the  driveway  when  Whitefoot  began 
to  give  trouble.  Mr.  Macy  jumped  out  to  see  if 
there  was  anything  wrong  with  the  harness.  At  that 
moment  the  Foxboro  car  passed  the  gate.  The 
horse  reared,  and  dashed  across  the  lawn  and  out 
through  the  neighbour's  gate.  The  wagon  caught  on 
a  stone  post  and  was  smashed  to  kindling.  Two  days 
later  a  country  man  brought  the  horse  home.  He  had 
found  him  in  a  wood  road  with  scraps  of  harness 
still  hanging  to  him. 

We  finally  sold  Whitefoot  to  a  man  in  Attleboro 
who  claimed  to  be  a  horse  tamer.  We  learned  a  year 
or  so  later  that  Whitefoot  had  been  the  cause  of  the 
death  of  a  cabman,  and  was  pronounced  crazy  by  the 
state  veterinarian  and  shot. 

It  was  a  long  time  before  we  summoned  up  cour- 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  43 

age  to  try  our  luck  with  horses  again.  But  we  finally 
succeeded  in  getting  what  we  wanted.  King  was  an 
English-bred  cob,  a  rich  bay  in  colour.  We  used 
to  say  that  he  stepped  as  Queen  Elizabeth  danced, 
''high  and  disposedly."  He  was  a  horse  tempered 
Uke  finest  steel — strong,  patient,  good-natured  with 
common  sense — the  kind  of  horse  erratic  drivers 
should  prize  above  pearls  and  rubies. 

Our  various  enterprises  with  livestock  having  not 
only  failed,  but  plunged  us  into  deeper  financial 
tribulations,  we  were  advised  to  plant  an  apple 
orchard.  This  seemed  just  the  thing.  We  bought  a 
hundred  choice  three  year  nurslings  and  planted 
them  according  to  the  rules  sent  out  by  the  United 
States  Department  of  Agriculture.  They  prospered. 
The  fifth  year  we  were  delighted  to  find  a  few  apples 
on  them.  I  knew  how  many  apples  each  tree  had, 
and  almost  daily  I  made  a  note  of  their  size.  The 
apple  orchard  was  such  a  comfort  to  us  that  we 
were  annoyed  with  ourselves  for  not  having  thought 
of  it  in  the  beginning. 

All  went  well  until  one  fateful  summer  afternoon 
when  Ian  Bittman,  our  Russian  man  of  all  work, 
came  rushing  up  to  my  study  where  Mrs.  Macy  and 
I  were  reading.  "Look!  look!  look,  Madam!  See,  the 
wild  cow  have  come,"  he  cried. 

We  ran  to  the  window,  and  in  great  excitement 
Ian  pointed  out  five  wonderful  creatures  disporting 


44  MIDSTREAM 

themselves  through  the  orchard.  Mrs.  Macy  could 
scarcely  believe  her  eyes — they  were  v^ild  deer — a 
great  antlered  buck,  a  doe,  and  three  half-grown 
fawns !  They  were  beautiful  in  the  afternoon  sunlight, 
skipping  from  tree  to  tree  and  stripping  the  bark  with 
their  teeth.  Indeed,  they  were  so  graceful  and  lovely, 
it  did  not  occur  to  one  of  us  to  chase  them  out  of 
the  orchard.  We  stood  there  fascinated  until  they 
had  destroyed  nearly  every  tree  before  we  realized 
what  had  happened.  That  year  Massachusetts  paid 
thousands  of  dollars  to  farmers  for  the  losses  they 
had  sustained  from  marauding  deer.  It  never  oc- 
curred to  us  to  send  the  state  a  bill  for  our  apple  trees. 
The  last  time  I  visited  the  old  place,  I  saw  perhaps 
half  a  dozen  of  the  trees  we  had  planted,  and  which 
had  escaped  the  sharp  teeth  of  the  invaders,  grown 
to  a  goodly  size,  and  bearing  fruit  each  year. 

I  used  to  stay  out  of  doors  as  much  as  possible  and 
watch  that  most  delightful  form  of  progress — the 
preparation  of  the  old  garden  for  young  plants,  and 
the  new  vegetation  which  spread  over  it  more  and 
more.  I  found  paths  I  could  follow  in  my  daily  walk 
through  the  field,  and  explored  the  wood  at  the  end 
of  it  which  was  to  be  the  retreat  of  my  happiest  hours. 
All  this  was  most  pleasant  to  live  through,  but  not 
much  to  write  about.  However,  it  indicates  the  sort  of 
material  I  have  for  an  autobiography.  I  have  no 
great  adventures  to  record,  no  thrilling  romances,  no 


MY  FIRST  YEARS  IN  WRENTHAM  45 

extraordinary  successes.  This  book  contains  simply 
the  impressions  and  feelings  which  have  passed 
through  my  mind.  But  perhaps,  after  all,  our  emo- 
tions and  sensations  are  what  are  most  worth  relating, 
since  they  are  our  real  selves. 

As  the  seasons  came  round,  I  would  run  out  to 
gather  armfuls  of  flowers,  or  watch  trees  being 
pruned,  or  help  bring  in  wood.  There  were  some 
big  elms  and  apple  trees  which  Mr.  Macy  used  to 
look  after  with  pride,  and  they  responded  beauti- 
fully to  his  care.  Every  autumn  I  would  put  up  a 
ladder  against  one  of  the  ancient  apple  trees,  climb 
as  high  as  I  could,  hold  to  a  branch,  and  shake  down 
the  rosy,  fragrant  fruit.  Then  I  would  descend,  pick 
up  the  apples,  and  fill  barrels  with  them  for  the 
winter.  Those  were  delicious  hours  when  my  soul 
seemed  to  cast  aside  its  earthly  vesture,  glide  into  the 
boughs  and  sing  like  the  birds  about  me.  I  also 
walked  a  great  deal.  By  following  the  wire  which 
Mr.  Macy  had  stretched  along  the  field,  I  easily 
found  my  way  to  a  pine  wood,  where  I  could  sit  and 
dream,  or  wander  from  tree  to  tree.  In  summer  there 
were  tall,  bright  grasses,  timothy,  and  wonderful 
goldenrod  and  Queen  Anne's  lace.  Altogether,  it  was 
the  longest  and  most  free  walk — about  a  quarter  of 
a  mile — that  I  ever  had  by  myself.  These  details  may 
seem  trivial,  but  without  this  bit  of  freedom  and 
sunny  solitude  I  could  not  have  endured  the  exact- 


46  MIDSTREAM 

ing  nature  of  my  daily  work.  Occasionally  some  one 
took  me  for  a  "spin"  on  my  tandem  bicycle.  There 
were  long,  delightful  rides  on  the  trolley  cars 
through  the  New  England  woods.  I  remember  with 
pleasure  that  no  odour  of  gasoline  marred  the  purity 
of  the  air. 

As  I  look  back,  everything  seems  to  have  moved 
with  the  slowness  of  a  woodland  stream — no  auto- 
mobiles or  aeroplanes  or  radios,  no  revolutions,  no 
world  wars.  Such  was  our  life  in  Wrentham,  or 
something  like  it,  between  1905  and  191 1.  For  it 
seems  so  far  away,  I  sometimes  feel  as  if  it  were  a 
sort  of  preexistence — a  dream  of  days  when  I  wore 
another  body  and  had  a  different  consciousness.  Yet 
I  see  it  clear  enough,  all  the  more  vivid  because  it 
was  free  from  the  external  distractions  which  keep 
one's  thoughts  occupied  with  trivial  things  and  leave 
no  leisure  for  the  soul  to  develop.  Where  gayety  was 
infrequent,  the  simplest  amusements  had  the  perfume 
of  heavenly  joy.  Where  the  surroundings  were  rural, 
and  life  monotonous,  any  beam  that  shone  upon  them 
was  precious.  Any  flower  discovered  among  the  rocks 
and  crannies  or  beside  the  brook  had  the  rareness  of 
a  star.  Small  events  were  full  of  poetry,  and  the  glory 
of  the  spirit  lay  over  all. 


Chapter  IV 

OUR   MARK  TWAIN 

One  of  the  most  memorable  events  of  our  Wrent- 
ham  years  was  our  visit  to  Mark  Twain. 

My  memory  of  Mr.  Clemens  runs  back  to  1894, 
when  he  was  vigorous,  before  the  shadows  began  to 
gather.  Such  was  the  affection  he  inspired  in  my 
young  heart  that  my  love  for  him  has  deepened  with 
the  years.  More  than  anyone  else  I  have  ever  known 
except  Dr.  Alexander  Graham  Bell  and  my  teacher, 
he  aroused  in  me  the  feeling  of  mingled  tenderness 
and  awe.  I  saw  him  many  times  at  my  friend  Mr. 
Lawrence  Hutton's  in  New  York,  and  later  in 
Princeton,  also  at  Mr.  H.  H.  Rogers's  and  at  his  own 
home  at  21  Fifth  Avenue,  and  last  of  all  at  Storm- 
field,  Connecticut.  Now  and  then  I  received  letters 
from  him.  We  were  both  too  busy  to  write  often,  but 
whenever  events  of  importance  in  our  lives  occurred 
we  wrote  to  each  other  about  them. 

I  was  fourteen  years  old  when  I  first  met  Mr. 
Clemens — one  Sunday  afternoon  when  Miss  Sullivan 
and  I  were  the  guests  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lawrence 
Hutton  in  New  York.  t)uring  the  afternoon  several 
celebrities  dropped   in,   and   among  them  Mr. 

47 


48  MIDSTREAM 

Clemens.  The  instant  I  clasped  his  hand  in  mine,  I 
knew  that  he  was  my  friend.  He  made  me  laugh  and 
feel  thoroughly  happy  by  telling  some  good  stories, 
which  I  read  from  his  lips.  I  have  forgotten  a  great 
deal  more  than  I  remember,  but  I  shall  never  for- 
get how  tender  he  was. 

He  knew  with  keen  and  sure  intuition  many  things 
about  me  and  how  it  felt  to  be  blind  and  not  to  keep 
up  with  the  swift  ones — things  that  others  learned 
slowly  or  not  at  all.  He  never  embarrassed  me  by 
saying  how  terrible  it  is  not  to  see,  or  how  dull  life 
must  be,  lived  always  in  the  dark.  He  wove  about 
my  dark  walls  romance  and  adventure,  which  made 
me  feel  happy  and  important.  Once  when  Peter 
Dunne,  the  irrepressible  Mr.  Dooley,  exclaimed: 
"God,  how  dull  it  must  be  for  her,  every  day  the 
same  and  every  night  the  same  as  the  day,"  he  said, 
"You're  damned  wrong  there;  blindness  is  an  ex- 
citing business,  I  tell  you ;  if  you  don't  believe  it,  get 
up  some  dark,  night  on  the  wrong  side  of  your  bed 
when  the  house  is  on  fire  and  try  to  find  the  door." 

The  next  time  I  saw  Mr.  Clemens  was  in  Prince- 
ton during  a  spring  vacation  when  we  were  visiting 
the  Huttons  in  their  new  home.  We  had  many  happy 
hours  together  at  that  time. 

One  evening  in  the  library  he  lectured  to  a  dis- 
tinguished company — Woodrow  Wilson  was  pres- 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  49 

ent — on  the  situation  in  the  Philippines.  We  lis- 
tened breathlessly.  He  described  how  six  hundred 
Moros — men,  women,  and  children — had  taken 
refuge  in  an  extinct  crater  bowl  near  Jolo,  where 
they  were  caught  in  a  trap  and  murdered,  by  order 
of  General  Leonard  Wood.  A  few  days  afterwards, 
Col.  Funston  captured  the  patriot  Aguinaldo  by  dis- 
guising his  military  marauders  in  the  uniform  of  the 
enemy  and  pretending  to  be  friends  of  Aguinaldo's 
officers.  Upon  these  military  exploits,  Mr.  Clemens 
poured  out  a  volcano  of  invective  and  ridicule.  Only 
those  who  heard  him  can  know  his  deep  fervour  and 
the  potency  of  his  flaming  words.  All  his  life  he 
fought  injustice  wherever  he  saw  it  in  the  relations 
between  man  and  man — in  politics,  in  wars,  in  out- 
rages against  the  natives  of  the  Philippines,  the 
Congo,  and  Panama.  I  loved  his  views  on  public 
affairs,  they  were  so  often  the  same  as  my  own. 

He  thought  he  was  a  cynic,  but  his  cynicism  did 
not  make  him  indifferent  to  the  sight  of  cruelty,  un- 
kindness,  meanness,  or  pretentiousness.  He  would 
often  say,  "Helen,  the  world  is  full  of  unseeing  eyes^ 
vacant,  staring,  soulless  eyes."  He  would  work  him- 
self into  a  frenzy  over  dull  acquiescence  in  any  evil 
that  could  be  remedied.  True,  sometimes  it  seemed 
as  if  he  let  loose  all  the  artillery  of  Heaven  against 
an  intruding  mouse  but  even  then  his  "resplendent 


50  MIDSTREAM 

vocabulary"  was  a  delight.  Even  when  his  ideas  were 
quite  wrong,  they  were  expressed  with  such  lucidity, 
conviction,  and  aggressiveness  that  one  felt  impelled 
to  accept  them — for  the  moment  at  least.  I  One  is  al- 
most persuaded  to  accept  any  idea  which  is  well  ex- 
pressed. 

He  was  interested  in  everything  about  me — my 
friends  and  little  adventures  and  what  I  was  writing. 
I  loved  him  for  his  beautiful  appreciation  of  my 
teacher's  work.  Of  all  the  people  who  have  written 
about  me  he  is  almost  the  only  one  who  has  realized 
the  importance  of  Miss  Sullivan  in  my  life,  who  has 
appreciated  her  "brilliancy,  penetration,  wisdom, 
character,  and  the  fine  literary  competences  of  her 
pen." 

He  often  spoke  tenderly  of  Mrs.  Clemens  and 
regretted  that  I  had  not  known  her. 

"I  am  very  lonely,  sometimes,  when  I  sit  by  the 
fire  after  my  guests  have  departed,"  he  used  to  say. 
"My  thoughts  trail  away  into  the  past.  I  think  of 
Livy  and  Susie  and  I  seem  to  be  fumbling  in  the 
dark  folds  of  confused  dreams.  I  come  upon  memo- 
ries of  little  intimate  happenings  of  long  ago  that 
drop  like  stars  into  the  silence.  One  day  every- 
thing breaks  and  crumbles.  It  did  the  day  Livy 
died."  Mr.  Clemens  repeated  with  emotion  and  in- 
expressible tenderness  the  lines  which  he  had  carved 
on  her  tombstone : 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  51 

Warm  summer  sun, 
Shine  kindly  here ; 
Warm  Southern  wind, 
Blow  softly  here  ; 
Green  sod  above. 
Lie  light,  lie  light  ; 
Good  night,  dear  heart, 
Good  night,  good  night. 

The  year  after  her  death  he  said  to  me,  ^'This  has 
been  the  saddest  year  I  have  ever  known.  If  it  were 
not  that  work  brings  forgetfulness,  life  would  be  in- 
tolerable." He  expressed  regret  that  he  had  not  ac- 
complished more.  I  exclaimed,  ^'Why,  Mr.  Clemens, 
the  whole  world  has  crowned  you.  Already  your 
name  is  linked  with  the  greatest  names  in  our  his- 
tory. Bernard  Shaw  compares  your  work  with  that 
of  Voltaire,  and  Kipling  has  called  you  the  Ameri- 
can Cervantes." 

"Ah,  Helen,  you  have  a  honeyed  tongue;  but  you 
don't  understand.  I  have  only  amused  people.  Their 
laughter  has  submerged  me." 

There  are  writers  who  belong  to  the  history  of 
their  nation's  literature.  Mark  Twain  is  one  of  them. 
When  we  think  of  great  Americans  we  think  of  him. 
He  incorporated  the  age  he  lived  in.  To  me  he  sym- 
bolizes the  pioneer  qualities — the  large,  free,  un- 
conventional, humorous  point  of  view  of  men  who 
sail  new  seas  and  blaze  new  trails  through  the  wil- 


52  MIDSTREAM 

derness.  Mark  Twain  and  the  Mississippi  River 
are  inseparable  in  my  mind.  When  I  told  him  that 
Life  on  the  Mississippi  was  my  favourite  story  of  ad- 
venture, he  said,  "That  amazes  me.  It  wouldn't  have 
occurred  to  me  that  a  woman  would  find  such  rough 
reading  interesting.  But  I  don't  know  much  about 
women.  It  would  be  impossible  for  a  person  to  know 
less  about  women  than  I  do." 

After  some  badinage  back  and  forth  about  women, 
Mr.  Clemens's  manner  changed.  A  sadness  came 
into  his  voice.  "Those  were  glorious  days,  the  days 
on  the  Mississippi.  They  will  come  back  no  more, 
life  has  swallowed  them  up,  and  youth  will  come  no 
more.  They  were  days  when  the  tide  of  life  was  high, 
when  the  heart  was  full  of  the  sparkling  wine  of 
romance.  There  have  been  no  other  days  like  them." 

It  was  just  after  he  had  read  my  book  The  World 
I  Live  In,  that  he  sent  a  note  to  Wrentham  saying,  "I 
command  you  all  three  to  come  and  spend  a  few 
days  with  me  in  Stormfield." 

It  was  indeed  the  summons  of  a  beloved  king.  His 
carriage  met  us  at  Redding  station.  If  my  memory 
serves  me,  it  was  in  February;  there  was  a  light  snow 
upon  the  Connecticut  hills.  It  was  a  glorious  five 
mile  drive  to  Stormfield ;  little  icicles  hung  from  the 
edges  of  the  leaves  and  there  was  a  tang  in  the  air 
of  cedar  and  pine.  We  drove  rapidly  along  the  wind- 
ing country  roads,  the  horses  were  in  high  spirits. 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  53 

Mr.  Macy  kept  reading  signboards  bearing  the  in- 
itials ''M.  T."  As  we  approached  the  Italian  villa 
on  the  very  top  of  the  hill,  they  told  me  he  was  stand- 
ing on  the  verandah  waiting.  As  the  carriage  rolled 
between  the  huge  granite  pillars,  he  waved  his  hand ; 
they  told  me  he  was  all  in  white  and  that  his  beauti- 
ful white  hair  glistened  in  the  afternoon  sunshine 
like  the  snow  spray  on  the  gray  stones. 

There  was  a  bright  fire  on  the  hearth,  and  we 
breathed  in  the  fragrance  of  pine  and  the  orange 
pekoe  tea.  I  scolded  Mr.  Clemens  a  little  for  coming 
out  on  the  verandah  without  his  hat;  there  was  still 
a  winter  chill  in  the  air.  He  seemed  pleased  that  I 
thought  about  him  in  that  way,  and  said  rather  wist- 
fully, "It  is  not  often  these  days  that  anyone  notices 
when  I  am  imprudent." 

We  were  in  the  land  of  enchantment.  We  sat  by 
the  fire  and  had  our  tea  and  buttered  toast  and  he 
insisted  that  I  must  have  strawberry  jam  on  my  toast. 
We  were  the  only  guests.  Miss  Lyon,  Mr.  Clemens's 
secretary,  presided  over  the  tea  table. 

Mr.  Clemens  asked  me  if  I  would  like  to  see  the 
house,  remarking  that  people  found  it  more  inter- 
esting than  himself. 

Out  of  the  living  room  there  was  a  large  sunny, 
beautiful  loggia,  full  of  living  plants  and  great  jar- 
dinieres filled  with  wild  grasses,  cat-tails,  goldenrod, 
and  thistles  which  had  been  gathered  on  the  hills  in 


54  MIDSTREAM 

the  late  fall.  We  returned  through  the  living  room 
to  the  dining  room  and  out  on  to  the  pergola  and 
back  again  to  the  house  and  into  the  billiard  room, 
where  Mr.  Clemens  said  he  spent  his  happiest  hours. 
,He  was  passionately  fond  of  billiards,  and  very  proud 
of  the  billiard  table  with  which  Mrs.  H.  H.  Rogers 
had  presented  him.  He  said  he  would  teach  me  to 
play. 

I  answered,  "Oh,  Mr.  Clemens,  it  takes  sight  to 
play  billiards." 

"Yes,"  he  teased,  "but  not  the  variety  of  billiards 
that  Paine  and  Dunne  and  Rogers  play.  The  blind 
couldn't  play  worse."  Then  upstairs  to  see  Mr. 
Clemens's  bedroom  and  examine  the  carved  bed- 
posts and  catch  a  glimpse  of  the  view  out  of  the 
great  windows  before  darkness  closed  in  upon  us. 

"Try  to  picture,  Helen,  what  we  are  seeing  out  of 
these  windows.  We  are  high  up  on  a  snow-covered 
hill.  Beyond,  are  dense  spruce  and  firwoods,  other 
snow-clad  hills  and  stone  walls  intersecting  the  land- 
scape everywhere,  and  over  all,  the  white  wizardry 
of  winter.  It  is  a  delight,  this  wild,  free,  fir-scented 
place." 

Our  suite  of  rooms  was  next  to  his.  On  the  mantel- 
piece, suspended  from  a  candlestick,  was  a  card  ex- 
plaining to  burglars  where  articles  of  value  were  in 
the  room.  There  had  recently  been  a  burglary  in  the 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  55 

house,  and  Mr.  Clemens  explained  that  this  was  a 
precaution  against  being  disturbed  by  intruders. 

"Before  I  leave  you,"  he  said,  "I  want  to  show  you 
Clara's  room;  it  is  the  most  beautiful  apartment  in 
the  house." 

He  was  not  content  until  he  had  shown  us  the 
servants'  quarters,  and  he  would  have  taken  us  to 
the  attic  if  Miss  Lyon  had  not  suggested  that  we  leave 
it  for  another  day.  It  was  obvious  that  Mr.  Clemens 
took  great  satisfaction  in  his  unusual  house.  He  told 
us  that  it  had  been  designed  by  the  son  of  my  life- 
long friend,  William  Dean  Howells.  Delightfully  he 
pointed  out  that  the  architecture  was  exactly  suited 
to  the  natural  surroundings,  that  the  dark  cedars  and 
pines,  which  were  always  green,  made  a  singularly 
beautiful  setting  for  the  white  villa.  Mr.  Clemens 
particularly  enjoyed  the  sunlight  that  came  through 
the  great  windows  and  the  glimpse  of  field  and  sky 
that  could  be  seen  through  them. 

"You  observe,"  he  said  to  us,  "there  are  no  pic- 
tures on  the  walls.  Pictures  in  this  house  would  be 
an  impertinence.  No  artist,  going  to  this  window  and 
looking  out,  has  ever  equalled  that  landscape." 

We  stayed  in  our  room  till  dinner  was  announced. 
Dinner  in  Mr.  Clemens's  house  was  always  a  func- 
tion where  conversation  was  important;  yes,  more  im- 
portant than  the  food.  It  was  a  rule  in  that  house 
that  guests  were  relieved  of  the  responsibility  of  con- 


56  MIDSTREAM 

versation.  Mr.  Clemens  said  that  his  personal  experi- 
ence had  taught  him  that  you  could  not  enjoy  your 
dinner  if  the  burden  of  finding  something  to  say  was 
weighing  heavily  upon  you.  He  made  it  a  rule,  he 
said,  to  do  all  the  talking  in  his  own  house,  and  ex- 
pected when  he  was  invited  out  that  his  hosts  would 
do  the  same.  He  talked  delightfully,  audaciously, 
brilliantly.  His  talk  was  fragrant  with  tobacco  and 
flamboyant  with  profanity.  I  adored  him  because  he 
did  not  temper  his  conversation  to  any  femininity. 
He  was  a  playboy  sometimes  and  on  occasions  liked  to 
show  off.  He  had  a  natural  sense  of  the  dramatic,  and 
enjoyed  posing  as  he  talked.  But  in  the  core  of  him 
there  was  no  make-believe.  He  never  attempted  to 
hide  his  light  under  a  bushel.  I  think  it  was  Goethe 
who  said,  ^'Only  clods  are  modest."  If  that  is  true, 
then  in  the  world  there  was  not  less  of  a  clod  than 
Mr.  Clemens. 

He  ate  very  little  himself,  and  invariably  grew 
restless  before  the  dinner  was  finished.  He  would  get 
up  in  the  midst  of  a  sentence,  walk  round  the  table 
or  up  and  down  the  long  dining  room,  talking  all 
the  while.  He  would  stop  behind  my  chair,  and  ask 
me  if  there  was  anything  I  wanted ;  he  would  some- 
times take  a  flower  from  a  vase  and  if  I  happened  to 
be  able  to  identify  it  he  showed  his  pleasure  by 
describing  in  an  exaggerated  manner  the  powers  that 
lie  latent  in  our  faculties,  declaring  that  the  ordinary 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  57 

human  being  had  not  scratched  the  surface  of  his 
brain.  This  line  of  observation  usually  led  to  a  tirade 
upon  the  appalling  stupidity  of  all  normal  human 
beings.  Watching  my  teacher  spelling  to  me,  he 
drawled,  "Can  you  spell  into  Helen's  left  hand  and 
tell  her  the  truth?"  Sometimes  the  butler  called  his 
attention  to  a  tempting  dish,  and  he  would  sit  down 
and  eat. 

To  test  my  powers  of  observation,  he  would  leave 
the  room  quietly  and  start  the  self-playing  organ  in 
the  living  room.  My  teacher  told  me  how  amusing 
it  was  to  see  him  steal  back  to  the  dining  room  and 
watch  stealthily  for  any  manifestations  on  my  part 
that  the  vibrations  had  reached  my  feet.  I  did  not 
often  feel  the  musical  vibrations,  as  I  believe  the 
floor  was  tiled,  which  prevented  the  sound  waves 
from  reaching  me,  but  I  did  sometimes  feel  the  chord 
vibrations  through  the  table.  I  was  always  glad  when 
I  did,  because  it  made  Mr.  Clemens  so  happy. 

We  gathered  about  the  warm  hearth  after  dinner, 
and  Mr.  Clemens  stood  with  his  back  to  the  fire 
talking  to  us.  There  he  stood — our  Mark  Twain,  our 
American,  our  humorist,  the  embodiment  of  our 
country.  He  seemed  to  have  absorbed  all  America 
into  himself.  The  great  Mississippi  River  seemed 
forever  flowing,  flowing  through  his  speech,  through 
the  shadowless  white  sands  of  thought.  His  voice 
seemed  to  say  like  the  river,  "Why  hurry?  Eternity 


58  MIDSTREAM 

is  long;  the  ocean  can  wait."  In  reply  to  some  ex- 
pression of  our  admiration  for  the  spaciousness  and 
the  beauty  of  the  room,  which  was  a  combination  of 
living  room  and  library,  he  said  with  more  enthu- 
siasm than  was  his  wont,  "It  suits  me  perfectly.  I 
shall  never  live  anywhere  else  in  this  world." 

He  was  greatly  interested  when  we  told  him  that 
a  friend  of  ours,  Mr.  W.  S.  Booth,  had  discovered 
an  acrostic  in  the  plays,  sonnets,  and  poems  usually 
attributed  to  Shakespeare,  which  revealed  the  author 
to  be  Francis  Bacon.  He  was  at  first  sceptical  and  in- 
clined to  be  facetious  at  our  expense.  He  attacked 
the  subject  vigorously,  yet  less  than  a  month  elapsed 
before  he  brought  out  a  new  book,  Is  Shakespeare 
Dead?  in  which  he  set  out,  with  all  his  fire,  to  de- 
stroy the  Shakespeare  legend,  but  not,  he  said  in  a 
letter  to  me,  with  any  hope  of  actually  doing  it. 

"I  wrote  the  booklet  for  pleasure — not  in  the  ex- 
pectation of  convincing  anybody  that  Shakespeare 
did  not  write  Shakespeare.  And  don't  you,"  he 
warned  me,  "write  in  any  such  expectation.  Shake- 
speare, the  Stratford  tradesman,  will  still  be  the 
divine  Shakespeare  to  our  posterity  a  thousand  years 
hence." 

When  the  time  came  to  say  good  night,  Mr. 
Clemens  led  me  to  my  room  himself  and  told  me 
that  I  would  find  cigars  and  a  thermos  bottle  with 
Scotch  whiskey,  or  Bourbon  if  I  preferred  it,  in  the 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  59 

bathroom.  He  told  me  that  he  spent  the  morning  in 
bed  writing,  that  his  guests  seldom  saw  him  before 
lunch  time,  but  if  I  felt  like  coming  in  to  see  him 
about  ten-thirty,  he  would  be  delighted,  for  there 
were  some  things  he  would  like  to  say  to  me  when 
my  Guardian  Angel  was  not  present. 

About  ten  o'clock  the  next  morning,  he  sent  for 
me.  He  liked  to  do  his  literary  work  in  bed,  propped 
up  among  his  snowy  pillows  looking  very  handsome 
in  his  dressing  gown  of  rich  silk,  dictating  his  notes 
to  a  stenographer.  He  said  if  doing  my  work  that 
way  appealed  to  me,  I  might  have  half  the  bed, 
provided  I  maintained  strict  neutrality  and  did  not 
talk.  I  told  him  the  price  was  prohibitive,  I  could 
never  yield  woman's  only  prerogative,  great  as  the 
temptation  was. 

It  was  a  glorious  bright  day,  and  the  sun  streamed 
through  the  great  windows.  Mr.  Clemens  said  if  I 
did  not  feel  inclined  to  work  after  lunch  (which  was 
by  way  of  sarcasm,  as  he  had  previously  remarked 
that  I  did  not  look  industrious,  and  he  believed  that 
I  had  somebody  to  write  my  books  for  me),  he 
would  take  a  little  walk  with  us  and  show  us  the 
"farm."  He  said  he  would  not  join  us  at  lunch,  as 
his  doctor  had  put  him  on  a  strict  diet.  He  appeared, 
however,  just  as  dessert  was  being  served.  He  said 
he  had  smelt  the  apple  pie  and  could  not  resist. 
Miss  Lyon  protested  timidly. 


6o  MIDSTREAM 
''Oh,  Mr.  Clemens  " 

"Yes,  I  know;  but  fresh  apple  pie  never  killed 
anybody.  But  if  Helen  says  I  can't,  I  won't."  I  did 
not  have  the  heart  to  say  he  couldn't,  so  we  com- 
promised on  a  very  small  piece,  which  was  later  aug- 
mented by  a  larger  piece,  after  a  pantomimic  warn- 
ing to  the  others  not  to  betray  him. 

I  suspected  what  was  going  on,  and  said,  ''Come, 
let  us  go  before  Mr.  Clemens  sends  to  the  kitchen 
for  another  pie." 

He  said,  "Tell  her  I  suspected  she  was  a  psychic. 
That  proves  she  is." 

He  put  on  a  fur-lined  greatcoat  and  fur  cap,  filled 
his  pockets  with  cigars,  and  declared  himself  ready 
to  start  on  the  walk.  He  led  me  through  the  pergola, 
stopping  to  let  me  feel  the  cedars  which  stood  guard 
at  every  step. 

"The  arches  were  intended  for  ramblers,"  he  said, 
"but  unfortunately  they  haven't  bloomed  this  winter. 
I  have  spoken  to  the  gardener  about  it,  and  I  hope 
the  next  time  you  come  we  shall  have  roses  bloom- 
ing for  you."  He  picked  out  a  winding  path  which 
he  thought  I  could  follow  easily.  It  was  a  delight- 
ful path,  which  lay  between  rocks  and  a  saucy  little 
brook  that  winter  had  not  succeeded  in  binding  with 
ice  fetters.  He  asked  Mr.  Macy  to  tell  me  there  was 
a  tall  white  building  across  an  intervening  valley 
from  where  we  were  standing.  "Tell  her  it's  a  church, 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  6i 

It  used  to  stand  on  this  side  of  the  brook;  but  the 
congregation  moved  it  last  summer  when  I  told  them 
I  had  no  use  for  it.  I  had  no  idea  that  New  England 
people  were  so  accommodating.  At  that  distance  it 
is  just  what  a  church  should  be — serene  and  pure 
and  mystical."  We  crossed  the  brook  on  a  little  rustic 
footbridge.  He  said  it  was  a  prehistoric  bridge,  and 
that  the  quiet  brown  pool  underneath  was  the  one 
celebrated  in  the  Songs  of  Solomon.  I  quoted  the 
passage  he  referred  to :  "Thine  eyes  like  the  fishpools 
in  Heshbon,  by  the  gate  of  Bath-rabbim."  It  was  a 
joy  being  with  him,  holding  his  hand  as  he  pointed 
out  each  lovely  spot  and  told  some  charming  untruth 
about  it.  He  said,  "The  book  of  earth  is  wonderful. 
I  wish  I  had  time  to  read  it.  I  think  if  I  had  begun  in 
my  youth,  I  might  have  got  through  the  first  chapter. 
But  it's  too  late  to  do  anything  about  it  now." 

We  wandered  on  and  on,  forgetful  of  time  and 
distance,  beguiled  by  stream  and  meadow  and  seduc- 
tive stone  walls  wearing  their  antumn  draperies  of 
red  and  gold  vines  a  little  dimmed  by  rain  and  snow, 
but  still  exquisitely  beautiful.  When  we  turned  at 
last,  and  started  to  climb  the  hill,  Mr.  Clemens 
paused  and  stood  gazing  over  the  frosty  New  Eng- 
land valley,  and  said,  "Age  is  like  this,  we  stand  on 
the  summit  and  look  back  over  the  distance  and 
time.  Alas,  how  swift  are  the  feet  of  the  days  of  the 
years  of  youth."  We  realized  that  he  was  very  tired, 


62 


MIDSTREAM 


Mr.  Macy  suggested  that  he  should  return  cross- 
lots  and  meet  us  on  the  road  with  a  carriage.  Mr. 
Clemens  thought  this  a  good  idea,  and  agreed  to 
pilot  Mrs.  Macy  and  me  to  the  road,  which  he  had 
every  reason  to  suppose  was  just  beyond  that  ele- 
phant of  a  hill.  Our  search  for  that  road  was  a  won- 
derful and  fearsome  adventure.  It  led  through  cow- 
paths,  across  ditches  filled  with  ice-cold  water  into 
fields  dotted  with  little  islands  of  red  and  gold  which 
rose  gently  out  of  the  white  snow.  On  closer  inspec- 
tion we  found  that  they  were  composed  of  patches 
of  dry  goldenrod  and  huckleberry  bushes.  We 
picked  our  way  through  treacherously  smiling  cart 
roads.  He  said,  ^'Every  path  leading  out  of  this 
jungle  dwindles  into  a  squirrel  track  and  runs  up 
a  tree."  The  cart  roads  proved  to  be  ruts  that  en- 
snared our  innocent  feet.  Mr.  Clemens  had  the  wary 
air  of  a  discoverer  as  he  turned  and  twisted  between 
spreading  branches  of  majestic  pines  and  dwarfed 
hazel  bushes.  I  remarked  that  we  seemed  to  be  away 
off  our  course.  He  answered,  ^'This  is  the  uncharted 
wilderness.  We  have  wandered  into  the  chaos  that 
existed  before  Jehovah  divided  the  waters  from  the 
land.  The  road  is  just  over  there,"  he  asserted  with 
conviction.  ''Yes,"  we  murmured  faintly,  wondering 
how  we  should  ever  ford  the  roaring,  tumbling  imp 
of  a  stream  which  flung  itself  at  us  out  of  the  hills. 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  63 

There  was  no  doubt  about  it.  The  road  was  just  there 
^'where  you  see  that  rail  fence."  Prophecy  deepened 
into  happy  certainty  when  we  saw  Mr.  Macy  and  the 
coachman  waiting  for  us.  "Stay  where  you  are,"  they 
shouted.  In  a  few  seconds  they  had  dismembered  the 
rail  fence  and  were  transporting  it  over  the  field.  It 
did  not  take  them  long  to  construct  a  rough  bridge, 
over  which  we  safely  crossed  the  Redding  Rubicon, 
and  sure  enough,  there  was  the  narrow  road  of  civi- 
lization winding  up  the  hillside  between  stone  walls 
and  clustering  sumachs  and  wild  cherry  trees  on 
which  little  icicles  were  beginning  to  form  like 
pendants.  Half  way  down  the  drive  Miss  Lyon  met 
us  with  tearful  reproaches.  Mr.  Clemens  mumbled 
weakly,  "It  has  happened  again — the  woman  tempted 
me." 

I  think  I  never  enjoyed  a  walk  more.  Sweet  is  the 
memory  of  hours  spent  with  a  beloved  companion. 
Even  being  lost  with  Mr.  Clemens  was  delightful, 
although  I  was  terribly  distressed  that  he  should  be 
exerting  himself  beyond  his  strength.  He  said  many 
beautiful  things  about  Stormfield,  for  instance,  "It 
is  my  Heaven.  Its  repose  stills  my  restlessness.  The 
view  from  every  point  is  superb  and  perpetually 
changes  from  miracle  to  miracle,  yet  nature  never 
runs  short  of  new  beauty  and  charm."  I  hope  the 
report  is  not  true  that  he  came  to  hate  the  place  and 


64  MIDSTREAM 

feel  that  he  had  been  defrauded  of  the  society  of  his 
fellow  men.  But  I  can  understand  that  a  tempera- 
ment like  Mr.  Clemens's  would  grow  weary  of  the 
solitude. 

The  last  evening  of  our  visit  we  sat  around  a  blaz- 
ing log  fire,  and  Mr.  Clemens  asked  me  if  I  would 
like  to  have  him  read  me  "Eve's  Diary."  Of  course  I 
was  delighted. 

He  asked,  "How  shall  we  manage  it?" 

"Oh,  you  will  read  aloud,  and  my  teacher  will 
spell  your  words  into  my  hand." 

He  murmured,  "I  had  thought  you  would  read  my 
lips." 

"I  should  like  to,  of  course;  but  I  am  afraid  you 
will  find  it  very  wearisome.  We'll  start  that  way  any- 
how, and  if  it  doesn't  work,  we'll  try  the  other  way." 
This  was  an  experience,  I  am  sure,  no  other  person  in 
the  world  had  ever  had. 

"You  know,  Mr.  Clemens,"  I  reminded  him,  "that 
we  are  going  home  to-morrow,  and  you  promised 
to  put  on  your  Oxford  robe  for  me  before  I  went." 

"So,  I  did,  Helen,  and  I  will — I  will  do  it  now 
before  I  forget." 

Miss  Lyon  brought  the  gorgeous  scarlet  robe 
which  he  had  worn  when  England's  oldest  university 
conferred  upon  him  the  degree  of  Doctor  of  Letters. 
He  put  it  on,  and  stood  there  in  the  fire  light  the 
embodiment  of  gracious  majesty.  He  seemed  pleased 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  65 

that  I  was  impressed.  He  drew  me  towards  him  and 
kissed  me  on  the  brow,  as  a  cardinal  or  pope  or 
feudal  monarch  might  have  kissed  a  little  child. 

How  I  wish  I  could  paint  the  picture  of  that 
evening!  Mr.  Clemens  sat  in  his  great  armchair, 
dressed  in  his  white  serge  suit,  the  flaming  scarlet 
robe  draping  his  shoulders,  and  his  white  hair  gleam- 
ing and  glistening  in  the  light  of  the  lamp  which 
shone  down  on  his  head.  In  one  hand  he  held  "Eve's 
Diary"  in  a  glorious  red  cover.  In  the  other  hand  he 
held  his  pipe.  "If  it  gets  in  the  way,"  he  said,  "I'll 
give  it  up,  but  I  feel  embarrassed  without  it."  I  sat 
down  near  him  in  a  low  chair,  my  elbow  on  the  arm 
of  his  chair,  so  that  my  fingers  could  rest  lightly  on 
his  lips.  Mr.  Macy  lighted  his  cigar,  and  the  play  be- 
gan. Everything  went  smoothly  for  a  time.  I  had  no 
difl[iculty  getting  the  words  from  his  lips.  His  pleas- 
ant drawl  was  music  to  my  touch,  but  when  he  began 
gesticulating  with  his  pipe,  the  actors  in  the  drama 
got  mixed  up  with  the  properties  and  there  was  con- 
fusion until  the  ashes  were  gathered  into  the  fire- 
place. Then  a  new  setting  was  arranged.  Mrs.  Macy 
came  and  sat  beside  me  and  spelled  the  words  into 
my  right  hand,  while  I  looked  at  Mr.  Clemens  with 
my  left,  touching  his  face  and  hands  and  the  book, 
following  his  gestures  and  every  changing  expres- 
sion. As  the  reading  proceeded,  we  became  utterly 
absorbed  in  the  wistful,  tender  chronicle  of  our  first 


66  MIDSTREAM 

parents.  Surely  the  joy,  the  innocence,  the  opening 
mind  of  childhood  are  among  life's  most  sacred 
mysteries,  and  if  young  Eve  laughs  she  makes  crea- 
tion all  the  sweeter  for  her  Heaven-born  merriment. 
The  beauty  of  Mr.  Clemens's  voice,  v^hen  Eve  sighed 
her  love,  and  when  Adam  stood  at  her  grave  griev- 
ing bitterly  saying  "wheresoever  she  was,  there  was 
Eden"  caused  me  to  weep  openly,  and  the  others 
swallowed  audibly.  Every  one  of  us  felt  the  yearn- 
ing homesickness  in  that  cry  of  pain. 

To  one  hampered  and  circumscribed  as  I  am  it 
was  a  wonderful  experience  to  have  a  friend  like  Mr. 
Clemens.  I  recall  many  talks  with  him  about  human 
affairs.  He  never  made  me  feel  that  my  opinions  were 
worthless,  as  so  many  people  do.  He  knew  that  we 
do  not  think  with  eyes  and  ears,  and  that  our  capacity 
for  thought  is  not  measured  by  five  senses.  He  kept 
me  always  in  mind  while  he  talked,  and  he  treated 
me  like  a  competent  human  being.  That  is  why  I 
loved  him. 

Perhaps  my  strongest  impression  of  him  was  that 
of  sorrow.  There  was  about  him  the  air  of  one  who 
had  suffered  greatly.  Whenever  I  touched  his  face 
his  expression  was  sad,  even  when  he  was  telling  a 
funny  story.  He  smiled,  not  with  the  mouth  but  with 
his  mind — a  gesture  of  the  soul  rather  than  of  the 
face.  His  voice  was  truly  wonderful.  To  my  touch,  it 
was  deep,  resonant.  He  had  the  power  of  modulating 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  67 

it  so  as  to  suggest  the  most  delicate  shades  of  mean- 
ing and  he  spoke  so  deliberately  that  I  could  get 
almost  every  word  with  my  fingers  on  his  lips.  Ah, 
how  sweet  and  poignant  the  memory  of  his  soft  slow 
speech  playing  over  my  listening  fingers.  His  words 
seemed  to  take  strange  lovely  shapes  on  my  hands.  His 
own  hands  were  wonderfully  mobile  and  changeable 
under  the  influence  of  emotion.  It  has  been  said  that 
life  has  treated  me  harshly;  and  sometimes  I  have 
complained  in  my  heart  because  many  pleasures  of 
human  experience  have  been  withheld  from  me,  but 
when  I  recollect  the  treasure  of  friendship  that  has 
been  bestowed  upon  me  I  withdraw  all  charges 
against  life.  If  much  has  been  denied  me,  much,  very 
much  has  been  given  me.  So  long  as  the  memory  of 
certain  beloved  friends  live  in  my  heart  I  shall  say 
that  life  is  good. 

The  affluence  of  Mr.  Clemens's  mind  impressed  me 
vividly.  His  felicitous  words  gushed  from  it  with 
the  abundance  of  the  Shasta  Falls.  Humour  was  on 
the  surface,  but  in  the  centre  of  his  nature  was  a 
passion  for  truth,  harmony,  beauty. 

Once  he  remarked  in  his  pensive,  cynical  way, 
^'There  is  so  little  in  life  that  is  not  pretence." 

"There  is  beauty,  Mr.  Clemens." 

"Yes,  there  is  beauty,  and  beauty  is  the  seed  of 
spirit  from  which  we  grow  the  flowers  that  shall 
endure." 


68  MIDSTREAM 

I  did  not  realize  until  I  began  this  sketch  how 
extremely  difficult  it  would  be  to  recapture  Mr. 
Clemens's  happy  phrases  from  my  memory.  I  am 
afraid  I  should  not  have  succeeded  at  all  if  I  had 
not  made  a  few  notes  after  my  conversation  with 
him.  But  I  believe  I  have  never  falsified  a  word  or 
an  emphasis  of  the  spirit  of  his  utterances. 

Time  passed  at  Stormfield  as  it  passes  everywhere 
else,  and  the  day  came  when  we  had  to  say  good-bye. 
The  kindly  white  figure  stood  on  the  verandah  wav- 
ing us  farewell,  as  he  had  waved  his  welcome  when 
we  arrived.  Silently  we  watched  the  stately  villa  on 
the  white  hilltop  fading  into  the  purple  distance.  We 
said  to  each  other  sadly,  "Shall  we  ever  see  him 
again?"  And  we  never  did.  But  we  three  knew  that 
we  had  a  picture  of  him  in  our  hearts  which  would 
remain  there  forever.  In  my  fingertips  was  graven 
the  image  of  his  dear  face  with  its  halo  of  shining 
white  hair,  and  in  my  memory  his  drawling,  mar- 
vellous voice  will  always  vibrate. 

I  have  visited  Stormfield  since  Mark  Twain's 
death.  The  flowers  still  bloom;  the  breezes  still 
whisper  and  sough  in  the  cedars,  which  have  grown 
statelier  year  by  year ;  the  birds  still  sing,  they  tell 
me.  But  for  me  the  place  is  bereft  of  its  lover.  The 
last  time  I  was  there,  the  house  was  in  ruins.  Only 
the  great  chimney  was  standing,  a  charred  pile  of 
bricks  in  the  bright  autumn  landscape. 


OUR  MARK  TWAIN  69 

As  I  sat  on  the  step  where  he  had  stood  with  me 
one  day,  my  hand  warm  in  his,  thoughts  of  him,  like 
shadowy  presences,  came  and  went,  sweet  with 
memory  and  with  regret.  Then  I  fancied  I  felt 
someone  approaching  me;  I  reached  out,  and  a  red 
geranium  blossom  met  my  touch!  The  leaves  of  the 
plant  were  covered  with  ashes,  and  even  the  sturdy 
stalk  had  been  partly  broken  off  by  a  chip  of  falling 
plaster.  But  there  was  the  bright  flower  smiling  at 
me  out  of  the  ashes.  I  thought  it  said  to  me,  "Please 
don't  grieve."  I  brought  the  plant  home  and  set  it 
in  a  sunny  corner  of  my  garden,  where  always  it 
seems  to  say  the  same  thing  to  me,  "Please  don't 
grieve."  But  I  grieve,  nevertheless. 


Chapter  V 


LEADING   THE  BLIND 

I  HAVE  been  writing  about  the  play  days  in  Wrent- 
ham.  I  have  not  dwelt  upon  the  perplexities  I  went 
through  trying  to  find  my  special  niche  in  life.  Even 
while  I  was  in  college  I  had  asked  myself  how  I 
could  use  the  education  I  was  receiving.  I  felt  that 
there  must  be  some  particular  task  for  me,  but  what 
was  it? 

My  friends  had  all  manner  of  plans.  While  I 
was  still  at  Radcliffe  one  of  them  conceived  the  idea 
that  I  was  wasting  precious  time  on  books  and  study 
which  would  do  nobody  good.  She  said  I  was  be- 
coming self-centred  and  egotistical  and  that  I  could 
accomplish  more  for  humanity  if  I  devoted  myself  to 
the  education  of  children  afflicted  like  myself.  She 
told  me  that  God  had  laid  this  work  upon  me  and 
that  it  was  my  duty  to  hearken  to  His  voice.  She  said 
it  would  not  be  necessary  for  us  to  do  anything  about 
financing  the  project,  that  she  would  attend  to  it 
herself.  We  begged  her  to  wait  until  I  finished  my 
education,  but  she  said  that  procrastination  was  the 
greatest  of  sins.  She  spent  the  night  with  us  in  Cam- 
bridge, arguing,  and  as  hour  after  hour  passed  my 

70 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  71 

teacher  and  I  became  more  and  more  exhausted.  Our 
friend  was  still  charging  our  defences.  She  took  our 
feeble  counterattack  for  surrender,  and  before  we 
were  up  the  next  morning  she  was  off  for  New  York 
and  Washington  to  acquaint  my  friends  with  the  mis- 
sion I  had  undertaken.  She  called  on  Dr.  Alexander 
Graham  Bell,  Mrs.  Lawrence  Hutton,  Mr.  Harsen 
Rhoades,and  many  others,and  told  them  how  strongly 
I  felt  that  I  must  pass  on  the  blessings  I  had  enjoyed 
to  other  deaf-blind  children.  Mrs.  Hutton  asked  me 
to  come  to  New  York  and  tell  them  how  I  felt  in 
the  matter.  I  had  written  her  that  the  project  was 
giving  me  infinite  trouble,  and  seriously  interfering 
with  my  college  work.  We  met  in  Mr.  Rhoades's 
private  office  in  the  Greenwich  Savings  Bank.  Mr. 
H.  H.  Rogers,  who  was  financing  my  college  course, 
could  not  be  present,  and  so  he  sent  Mark  Twain  as 
his  representative.  The  matter  was  thoroughly 
threshed  out.  When  Mr.  Clemens  rose  to  speak  he 
said  that,  unlike  the  lady  who  was  sponsoring  the 
scheme,  he  did  not  know  what  the  Lord  wanted  him 
to  say,  but  that  he  did  know  what  H.  H.  Rogers 
wanted  him  to  say.  ''Mr.  Rogers  wishes  it  to  be  un- 
derstood," he  said,  "that  he  does  not  intend  to  finance 
any  of  the  Lord's  projects  on  the  recommendation 
of  Mrs.  So  and  So.  She  seems  thoroughly  familiar 
with  the  Lord's  intentions.  She  made  it  clear  in  her 
conversation  that  her  plan  for  a  school  for  afflicted 


72  MIDSTREAM 

children  embodied  His  idea  exactly.  I  couldn't  help 
wondering  how  she  got  every  detail  of  the  divine  idea 
right  when  there  were  no  written  instructions.  Per- 
haps the  Lord  appointed  her  His  deputy  with  power 
to  act  for  Him.  There  is  no  other  possible  explana- 
tion of  how,  out  of  the  countless  good  ideas  for  this 
institution,  she  was  able  to  pick  the  one  which  had 
the  Deity's  sanction  every  time." 

All  through  my  life  people  who  imagine  them- 
selves more  competent  than  my  teacher  and  I  have 
wanted  to  organize  my  affairs.  No  doubt  it  would 
have  been  to  our  advantage  if  some  of  these  ideas 
had  been  carried  out.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  hard 
to  see  how  all  their  excellent  suggestions  could 
have  been  followed ;  for  they  had  opposite  aims.  We 
were  strangers  when  we  met.  Usually  we  were 
friends  for  a  space  of  time,  but  when  we  parted,  the 
bonds  of  our  friendship  creaked  considerably,  and 
on  several  occasions  they  snapped.  These  friends 
pointed  out  our  incompetence,  and  assured  us  that 
if  we  followed  their  plan,  we  should  win  fame  and 
fortune,  and  incidentally  benefit  some  good  cause. 
They  talked,  they  wrote,  they  brought  their  friends 
to  help  them,  and  went  away,  and  the  next  day  others 
came.  Sometimes  it  was  necessary,  as  in  the  case  of 
the  plan  about  which  I  have  just  written,  to  call 
upon  my  staunch  friends  Mr.  Rogers,  Mrs.  Hutton, 
and  Mrs.  William  Thaw,  to  get  me  out  of  their  toils. 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  73 

Some  of  these  entanglements  had  memorable  and 
unfortunate  consequences  for  me. 

There  was  an  effort  on  the  part  of  Mr.  Anagnos, 
the  successor  of  Dr.  Howe  as  director  of  the  Perkins 
Institution  for  the  Blind  when  I  was  a  little  girl  to 
keep  my  teacher  and  me  at  the  Institution.  Miss 
Sullivan  thought  that  it  would  be  detrimental  to  my 
development  to  remain  in  an  institution.  She  has 
always  believed  that  handicapped  people  should  not 
be  herded  together  when  it  is  possible  to  keep  them  in 
a  normal  environment.  There  were  many  reasons  why 
it  would  have  been  delightful  for  me  to  live  at  the 
Institution.  Nearly  everyone  there  could  spell  to  me, 
and  I  was  happy  with  the  blind  children.  Moreover, 
I  loved  Mr.  Anagnos  like  a  father.  He  was  ex- 
ceedingly kind  to  me,  and  I  owe  him  some  of  the 
brightest  memories  of  my  childhood ;  best  of  all,  it 
was  he  who  sent  my  teacher  to  me.  When  we  left  the 
Institution  and  went  on  our  wayward  quest  of  edu- 
cation Mr.  Anagnos  bitterly  resented  what  he  was 
pleased  to  call  Miss  Sullivan's  ingratitude,  and  shut 
us  out  from  his  heart.  I  like  to  think  that  if  he  lived, 
he  would  have  come  to  see  that  she  chose  the  wiser 
course. 

Some  of  the  would-be  directors  of  my  life  have 
staged  the  little  dramas  in  which  I  was  to  play  the 
leading  role  with  such  delicate  art,  they  almost 
seemed  like  my  own  conceptions,  and  their  failure 


74  MIDSTREAM 

to  materialize  gloriously  has  hurt  my  pride  not  a 
little.  The  beautiful  Queen  of  Roumania,  who  used 
to  write  to  me  under  her  nom  de  plume,  Carmen 
Sylva,  had  a  plan  for  gathering  all  the  blind  of  her 
kingdom  into  one  place  and  giving  them  pleasant 
homes  and  employment.  This  city  was  to  be  called 
"Vatra  Luminosa" — "Luminous  Hearth."  She 
wanted  me  to  help  her  finance  it.  The  idea  had  its 
origin  in  a  generous  heart;  but  it  was  not  in  accord- 
ance with  modern  methods  of  helping  the  sightless  to 
help  themselves.  I  wrote  Queen  Elizabeth  that  I 
did  not  feel  that  I  could  cooperate  with  her.  She  was 
deeply  hurt.  She  thought  I  was  selfish  and  had  not 
the  true  happiness  of  the  blind  at  heart.  Our  pleasant 
correspondence  was  broken  off,  and  I  never  heard 
direct  from  her  again. 

But  I  cannot  leave  this  subject  without  a  word  of 
appreciation  of  the  friends  who  have  not  tried  to 
manage  me.  Curiously  enough,  they  are  the  ones  who 
have  contributed  most  to  my  usefulness  and  joy.  If 
those  who  believe  in  us,  and  give  money  to  enable 
us  to  realize  our  ambitions,  have  a  right  to  a  say  in 
the  shaping  of  our  lives,  certainly  my  teacher,  my 
mother,  Mr.  Rogers,  Mr.  Carnegie,  Mrs.  Thaw, 
and  Dr.  Bell  had  that  right;  but  they  never  exer- 
cised it  in  word  or  deed.  And  since  they  left  me  free 
to  choose  my  own  work  (within  my  limitations)  I 
looked  about  to  see  what  there  was  that  I  could  do. 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  75 

I  resolved  that  whatever  role  I  did  play  in  life  it 
would  not  be  a  passive  one. 

Before  I  left  Radcliffe  I  had  heard  the  call  of  the 
sightless.  In  1903,  while  I  was  a  junior,  I  received 
a  visit  from  an  enthusiastic  young  man,  Mr.  Charles 
F.  F.  Campbell,  whom  I  had  met  while  he  was  still 
a  student  at  the  Massachusetts  Institute  of  Tech- 
nology. I  knew  about  his  famous  father,  Sir  Francis 
Campbell,  an  American  blind  man,  educated  at  the 
Perkins  Institution,  who  founded  the  Royal  Normal 
College  and  Academy  of  Music  for  the  Blind  in 
England  and  was  knighted  by  the  King  for  his 
services  to  the  sightless.  Young  Mr.  Campbell  wished 
me  to  join  an  association  which  had  just  been  formed 
by  the  Women's  Educational  and  Industrial  Union 
in  Boston  to  promote  the  welfare  of  the  adult  blind.  I 
did  so,  and  soon  after  I  appeared  before  the  legisla- 
ture with  the  new  association  to  urge  the  necessity  of 
employment  for  the  blind  and  to  ask  for  the  appoint- 
ment of  a  State  Commission  that  would  make  them 
their  special  care.  The  commission  was  appointed, 
and  although  I  did  not  know  it  at  the  time,  the  cur- 
tain rose  on  my  life  work. 

The  association  established  an  experimental  sta- 
tion under  Mr.  Campbell's  direction  for  the  purpose 
of  testing  oul:  industries  that  seemed  practicable.  The 
blind  were  taught  trades  in  their  homes  and  a  sales 
rgom  was  opened  in  Boston  for  the  disposal  of  their 


76  MIDSTREAM 

wares.  The  new  Commission  opened  a  series  of  shops 
in  different  parts  of  the  state,  and  a  great  movement 
was  launched  in  which  Mr.  Campbell  was  the  leader 
until  1922.  No  one  in  our  day  has  done  more  to  put 
the  blind  on  an  equal  footing  with  the  seeing.  I  have 
never  ceased  to  lament  that  he  is  no  longer  connected 
with  the  work  and  I  hope  the  day  is  not  distant  when 
he  will  again  join  our  crusade  against  darkness. 

It  was  not  until  the  autumn  of  1904,  after  we  had 
moved  to  Wrentham,  that  I  seriously  began  to  study 
blindness  and  the  problems  it  creates.  I  found  that 
one  of  the  greatest  needs  was  a  central  clearing  house. 
Much  time  and  money  were  wasted  in  unorganized 
effort.  Scarcely  anyone  in  Massachusetts  knew  what 
was  being  done  in  other  parts  of  the  United  States. 
There  was  "a  separation  in  space  and  spirit"  between 
the  various  schools  and  societies  which  rendered  it 
very  difficult  to  collect  and  distribute  information. 
There  was  no  accurate  census  of  the  blind  in 
America.  Nor  was  there  a  national  survey  of  occu- 
pations. There  was  no  central  group  to  go  out  into 
new  territory  and  start  the  work  for  the  blind.  There 
was  no  bureau  of  research  or  information.  The  ap- 
paratus used  by  the  blind  was  primitive.  Books  were 
expensive  and  there  was  no  unified  system  of  em- 
bossed printing. 

The  first  printing  ever  done  in  relief  was  in  an 
embossed  Roman  letter.  It  was  never  satisfactory. 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  77 

The  classroom  instruction  in  literature  and  music 
remained  chiefly  oral.  Tangible  writing  was  impos- 
sible. But  with  the  introduction  of  Braille's  alphabet 
of  raised  dots  that  could  easily  be  felt  by  the  finger 
and  arranged  in  combinations  to  represent  letters, 
the  era  of  educating  the  blind,  as  we  understand  it 
to-day,  began.  Every  pupil  could  learn  to  read  it 
and  to  write  it.  It  was  of  universal  application :  to 
any  language,  longhand  or  shorthand,  to  mathematics 
and  to  music.  As  a  system  it  was  and  is  adequate  to 
all  purposes.  More  than  any  other  single  lever  it  has 
served  to  lift  the  educational  status  of  blind  people. 

Its  inventor,  Louis  Braille,  blinded  by  accident  at 
the  age  of  three  years,  became  first  a  pupil  and  then 
a  teacher  at  the  National  Institution  for  the  Blind 
in  Paris,  which  was  the  parent  of  all  such  schools.  At 
the  age  of  sixteen  he  had  worked  out  his  alphabetical 
system,  boldly  addressing  it  to  the  finger  only,  not  at 
all  to  the  eye;  and  he  had  supplied  a  slate  to  write  it 
on.  The  whole  world  of  educated  blind  people  uses 
it  to-day,  practically  as  he  left  it.  Next  to  Valentin 
Haiiy  himself,  the  founder  of  the  first  school  for 
the  blind,  we  consider  Louis  Braille  our  greatest 
benefactor. 

Unfortunately,  Dr.  Howe,  the  director  of  the 
Massachusetts  School  for  the  Blind,  whose  word 
carried  more  weight  than  that  of  anyone  else  in 
America,  rejected  this  invention  and  continued  to 


78  MIDSTREAM 

print  books  in  the  Roman  letter,  and  other  schools 
in  America  followed  the  example  of  Massachusetts. 
But  the  greater  part  of  the  blind  could  not  read  the 
Roman  letter.  Naturally,  they  wanted  something  they 
could  read,  and  so  a  number  of  dot  systems  sprang  up 
all  over  the  United  States.  The  confusion  of  prints 
yvent  from  bad  to  worse.  Each  party  clung  tenaciously 
to  its  own  theory,  and  the  blind  themselves  had  no 
voice  in  the  matter.  It  was  so  expensive  to  make 
books  in  the  different  systems  that  the  number  re- 
mained extremely  limited,  and  furthermore  the 
multiplicity  of  prints  resulted  in  duplication.  Even 
our  magazines  were  printed  in  several  different 
types,  thus  multiplying  the  expense  of  their  produc- 
tion. I  learned  five  different  prints — New  York  point, 
American  braille,  European  braille.  Moon,  and  Line 
type — in  order  to  avail  myself  of  all  that  had  been 
printed  for  the  blind.  The  Bible  and  other  books 
universally  demanded  were  printed  in  all  five  sys- 
tems. 

The  condition  of  the  adult  blind  was  almost  hope- 
less. Many  of  them  were  idle  and  in  want,  and  not  a 
few  of  them  were  in  almshouses.  Many  had  lost  their 
sight  when  it  was  too  late  to  go  to  school.  They  were 
without  occupation  or  diversion  or  resources  of  any 
kind.  The  crudest  part  of  their  fate  then  as  now  was 
not  blindness  but  the  feeling  that  they  were  a  burden 
tQ  their  families  or  the  community. 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  79 

I  was  surprised  to  find  when  I  talked  to  seeing 
persons  well  informed  about  other  matters,  a  medi- 
,feval  ignorance  concerning  the  sightless.  They  assured 
me  that  the  blind  can  tell  colours  by  touch  and  that 
the  senses  they  have  are  more  delicate  and  acute  than 
those  of  other  people.  Nature  herself,  they  told  me, 
seeks  to  atone  to  the  blind  by  giving  them  a  singular 
sensitiveness  and  a  sweet  patience  of  spirit.  It  seemed 
not  to  occur  to  them  that  if  this  were  true  it  would 
be  an  advantage  to  lose  one's  sight. 

The  most  important  phase  of  all  the  work,  namely, 
the  prevention  of  blindness  in  new-born  children, 
could  not  even  be  discussed.  The  medical  profession 
had  known  since  1881  that  at  least  two  thirds  of  the 
children  admitted  to  the  schools  had  been  blinded 
as  a  result  of  a  germ  which  attacked  the  eyes  in  the 
process  of  birth,  and  that  the  disease  caused  by  this 
infection,  ophthalmia  neonatorum,  was  easily  pre- 
ventable. But  because  it  was  associated  with  venereal 
disease,  though  not  always  caused  by  it,  very  few 
had  the  courage  to  bring  the  matter  to  the  attention 
of  the  public.  By  1900  a  number  of  physicians  had 
done  this,  among  them  Dr.  F.  Park  Lewis  of  Buffalo, 
Dr.  A.  Morrow  of  New  York,  and  Dr.  North  of 
Boston.  It  was  this  group  that  began  urging  the 
association  and  commission  I  had  joined  to  take  up 
the  work  of  prevention,  and  a  lay  campaign  was 
started  which  resulted  in  the  formation  of  a  National 


8o  MIDSTREAM 

Committee  for  the  Prevention  of  Blindness,  which  is 
still  active. 

A  few  years  later  when  I  visited  Kansas  City,  the 
physicians  in  charge  of  the  eye  clinic  there  asked  me 
to  see  if  I  could  persuade  Colonel  Nelson,  editor  of 
the  Kansas  City  Star,  to  allow  blindness  in  the  new- 
born to  be  discussed  in  his  paper.  At  first  he  refused; 
but  when  he  saw  how  disappointed  I  was,  he  said, 
"Well,  write  what  you  have  to  say,  and  I'll  see  what 
I  can  do."  I  Wrote  out  the  facts  for  him,  and  he 
printed  the  article  on  the  front  page  of  the  Star, 
Thus  another  barrier  was  broken  down  before  the 
march  of  progress. 

The  year  1907  was  a  banner  year  for  the  blind. 
Mr.  Edward  Bok  threw  open  the  pages  of  the  Ladies' 
Home  Journal  for  a  frank  discussion  of  the  causes  of 
blindness  and  I  wrote  a  series  of  articles  for  him. 
Other  periodicals  of  more  or  less  prominence  fol- 
lowed suit,  and  a  great  barrier  went  down  before  the 
march  of  progress.  It  was  in  1907  that  the  Matilda 
Ziegler  Magazine  for  the  Blind  was  established.  It 
was  financed  by  Mrs.  William  Ziegler  of  New  York, 
whose  generosity  has  created  more  real  happiness  for 
the  sightless  than  that  of  any  other  living  person.  For 
twenty  years  the  magazine  has  been  edited  by  Mr. 
Walter  Holmes,  who  has  won  for  himself  a  warm 
chimney  corner  in  the  hearts  of  all  the  blind.  This 
same  year  Mr.  Campbell  began  issuing  The  Outlook 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  8i 

for  the  Blind,  the  first  magazine  in  America  to  bring 
together  all  matters  of  interest  concerning  the  sight- 
less. He  carried  it  through  sixteen  years  without  any 
financial  return  to  himself  and  during  all  that  period 
succeeded  in  holding  the  good  will  of  those  who 
were  battling  over  the  types. 

It  was  in  1907  or  1908,  I  think,  that  I  was  asked  to 
prepare  a  paper  on  the  blind  for  an  Encyclopedia  of 
Education.  This  rather  took  my  breath  away,  for  it 
was  before  I  was  familiar  with  the  history  of  their 
education,  and  the  only  book  available  on  the  sub- 
ject was  in  German,  Alexander  Mell's  Blindenwesen. 
It  was  not  in  raised  letters,  and  so  Mr.  Macy  read 
it  to  me  after  his  day's  work.  As  I  penetrated  more 
deeply  into  the  problems  of  the  blind  he  also  read 
me  Diderot's  rich,  suggestive  essay  on  blindness,  and 
a  French  story.  Sous  les  Trembles,  which  invested 
blind  people  with  a  stirring  human  interest. 

The  more  I  did  the  more  the  requests  multiplied. 
Over  and  over  I  was  asked  to  write  articles  and  at- 
tend meetings  and  speak  to  legislatures.  Repeatedly 
I  was  invited  to  go  abroad  and  visit  the  schools  of 
France,  Germany,  England,  and  Italy,  to  interest 
people  in  the  deaf  or  the  blind. 

Dr.  Bell  and  Dr.  James  Kerr  Love  of  Scotland 
were  urging  me  to  bring  the  problems  of  the  deaf 
before  the  public,  and  although  I  was  as  deeply 
interested  in  the  cause  of  the  deaf  as  I  was  in  that  of 


82  MIDSTREAM 

the  blind  and  had  always  thought  deafness  before  the 
acquisition  of  language  a  greater  affliction  than 
blindness,  I  found  that  it  was  not  humanly  possible 
to  work  for  both  the  blind  and  the  deaf  at  the  same 
time. 

I  did  everything  I  could  and  several  times  made 
addresses,  although  my  voice  could  be  understood 
only  in  a  small  auditorium,  and  I  had  had  no  train- 
ing in  public  speaking.  An  occasion  I  especially  re- 
member was  when  I  went  to  the  St.  Louis  Exposition 
in  the  hope  of  creating  a  wider  interest  in  children 
who  were  deaf  and  blind. 

I  was  to  speak  one  morning  before  a  gathering  of 
educators.  The  crowd  was  so  great  that  it  was  obvious 
that  I  could  not  be  heard.  Mr.  David  Rowland 
Francis,  President  of  the  Exposition,  who  had  a  fine 
speaking  voice,  offered  to  read  my  address,  but  I  had 
not  brought  a  copy  with  me.  *'Well,"  he  said,  "I 
understand  you  perfectly.  I  will  repeat  what  you 
say."  In  fear  and  trembling  I  began.  He  kept  his 
hand  on  my  arm  to  signal  me  when  to  stop  and  when 
to  go  on.  After  half  a  dozen  sentences  I  was  satisfied 
that  all  was  going  well.  When  he  finished  we  both 
received  an  ovation. 

In  the  meanwhile  the  crowd  around  the  building 
had  become  so  dense  that  it  was  impossible  for  us 
to  get  through  it.  Mrs.  Macy  and  I  were  separated 
from  our  escort,  our  clothing  was  torn,  and  the 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  83 

flowers  were  snatched  ofif  my  hat  for  souvenirs.  Mr. 
Francis  called  out  the  guards  to  disperse  the  crowd 
and  we  were  given  six  stalwart  soldiers  to  conduct 
us  through  the  grounds. 

In  spite  of  this  warm-hearted  reception,  nothing 
constructive  was  done  for  the  deaf-blind  of  America. 
And  now,  after  more  than  twenty  years,  I  still  grieve 
that  so  few  of  these  little  unhappy  ones  have  been 
led  out  of  their  imprisonment.  No  moments  in  my 
life  are  sadder  than  those  in  which  I  have  felt  their 
groping  hands  in  mine,  mutely  appealing  for  help  I 
could  not  give.  But  it  is  useless  to  repine.  I  mention 
my  young  dream  of  their  deliverance  only  because 
it  is  sweet  to  remember. 

Life  was  very  strenuous.  Often  we  would  leave 
home  with  all  the  housework  undone,  hasten  to  a 
meeting,  go  through  with  its  inevitable  tiresome 
social  functions,  and  return  to  Wrentham  to  find 
fresh  tasks  added  to  our  already  heavy  burden.  It  is 
not  strange  that  we  both  broke  down  several  times 
after  a  series  of  public  appearances.  The  requests  and 
must-be-written  letters  continued  to  multiply — they 
would  have  kept  a  whole  staff  of  assistants  busy  if  we 
could  have  afforded  it. 

We  were  hemmed  in  on  all  sides  by  unromantic 
obstacles.  I  had  hoped  to  translate  Maurice  de  la 
Sizeranne's  Psychologic  des  Femmes  Aveugles  be- 
cause it  contained  much  valuable  information  about 


84  MIDSTREAM 

the  education  of  the  blind  in  France.  There  was 
nothing  in  this  country  comparable  with  it  except 
possibly  Dr.  Howe's  reports  of  his  work  at  the 
Massachusetts  School,  and  these,  unfortunately,  were 
not  generally  available  and  naturally  were  not  as 
up-to-date  as  the  French  book.  Someone  in  Germany 
sent  me  a  small  volume  of  poems  by  Lorm,  who  lost 
both  his  sight  and  his  hearing  in  adult  life  and  who 
wrote  many  lines  of  courage  and  beauty  about  "The 
inner  Sun  I  create  in  my  Soul."  But  there  were  no 
adequate  dictionaries  of  foreign  languages  in  braille, 
and  it  was  impossible  for  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Macy  to 
read  me  all  the  books  I  should  have  liked  to  put  into 
English.  We  could  not  have  paid  a  special  reader 
even  if  the  right  kind  had  been  forthcoming. 

During  many  years  we  had  no  servant.  I  learned  to 
do  all  I  could  without  sight  to  help  my  teacher.  Mr. 
Macy  went  to  Boston  every  morning,  and  Mrs.  Macy 
drove  him  to  the  train  and  attended  to  the  marketing. 
I  cleared  the  table,  washed  the  dishes,  and  tidied  up 
the  rooms.  Letters  might  come  in  multitudes,  articles 
and  books  might  clamour  to  be  written,  but  home 
was  home,  and  somebody  had  to  make  the  beds,  pick 
the  flowers,  start  the  windmill  and  stop  it  when  the 
tank  was  filled,  and  be  mindful  of  the  little  almost 
unnoticed  things  which  constitute  the  happiness  of 
family  life.  Of  course  I  could  not  take  the  helm  of 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  85 

the  ship  in  hand,  but  I  found  tasks  sufficient  to  keep 
me  on  my  feet  most  of  the  day,  and  everyone  who 
loves  knows  how  gratifying  it  is  to  be  able  really  to 
help  others  through  a  hard  day's  routine. 

We  were  pursued  by  misunderstandings.  Not  long 
after  we  had  started  our  Wrentham  home  life  an 
incident  occurred  which  explains  how  such  mis- 
understandings began.  Madame  Elizabeth  Nordin, 
a  Swedish  educator,  called  on  us  one  day  and  talked 
with  us  for  hours.  She  said  she  was  in  charge  of  a 
school  for  deaf-blind  children  in  Sweden,  and  was 
visiting  America  for  the  purpose  of  studying  the  best 
methods  to  educate  her  pupils.  We  gladly  gave  her 
what  information  we  could.  She  asked  me  to  speak 
in  French  and  German,  and  seemed  surprised  that 
I  could  pronounce  the  words  as  well  as  I  did.  She 
was  full  of  pleasant  compliments,  and  embraced  me 
cordially  when  she  departed.  Afterwards  we  learned 
that  she  was  indignant  because  we  had  not  offered  to 
entertain  her  as  our  guest  for  three  weeks  while  she 
was  studying  American  schools  for  the  sightless!  She 
had  told  me  with  amusement  the  myths  she  had  read 
about  me — that  I  could  paint  pictures  and  play  the 
piano,  and  that  I  had  a  great  gift  for  sculpture.  Yet 
when  she  returned  to  Sweden  she  disseminated  myths 
quite  as  absurd  as  these.  She  wrote  an  article  full  of 
misinformation  in  which  she  said  I  had  received 


86  MIDSTREAM 

every  honour  at  Radcliffe,  and  that  Boston  had  pre- 
sented me  with  a  house  and  a  park!  It  was  she  who 
gave  the  educators  of  the  blind  in  Europe  exagger- 
ated accounts  of  my  good  fortune  and  liberal  friends, 
and  unparalleled  opportunities  to  help  all  the  deaf- 
blind  to  be  taught  and  placed  in  homes  where  they 
would  be  well  cared  for !  While  professing  the  utmost 
devotion  to  ''the  poor,  unhappy,  doubly  afflicted  ones 
whose  fate  I  shared,"  she  placed  me  in  a  trying  posi- 
tion from  which  I  have  never  been  able  to  extricate 
myself.  It  was  she  who  brought  upon  my  dear  ones 
and  me  all  the  remonstrances  and  disappointed  ex- 
postulations of  people  who  believed  I  could  help 
them.  If  any  of  my  European  friends  happen  to  read 
this  record,  I  hope  they  will  understand  that  my 
refusals  were  not  because  I  was  indifferent. 

We  tried  to  change  our  mode  of  living  into  some- 
thing like  what  we  had  hoped  for  when  we  moved 
to  Wrentham,  but  we  never  succeeded.  Now  and 
then  we  resolutely  withdrew  from  the  world,  to  use 
the  mediaeval  phrase,  and  applied  ourselves  each  to 
his  or  her  own  task.  We  barricaded  ourselves  with  the 
sacrosanct  privacy  to  which  tradition  and  the  neces- 
sities of  concentrated  thinking  entitle  writers  and 
artists.  But  in  spite  of  our  attempted  hermit  life,  we 
were  imperatively  called  out  to  new  duties. 

It  was  in  the  summer  of  1906  that  my  teacher  and 
I  assumed  the  additional  responsibility  of  attending 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  87 

the  sessions  of  the  Massachusetts  Commission  for  the 
Blind,  of  which  the  Governor  appointed  me  a  mem- 
ber. Mrs.  Macy  sat  beside  me  hour  after  hour,  as  she 
had  done  in  college,  and  spelled  to  me  everything 
that  v^as  said.  We  had  found  it  a  tax  upon  our  facul- 
ties to  keep  up  with  the  lecture  of  one  professor 
talking  steadily  for  a  whole  hour;  but  at  these  meet- 
ings we  were  breathless  with  the  effort  to  keep  up 
with  comments,  criticisms,  questions  and  replies 
exchanged  rapidly  by  four  or  five  different  persons, 
and  the  endless  minutiae  which  characterize  the 
sessions  of  a  state  board.  From  the  beginning  I  was 
full  of  misgivings  as  to  my  qualifications  for  serving 
on  the  board.  The  more  I  listened  to  the  discussions 
the  less  competent  I  felt  to  take  part  in  them.  It 
is  never  a  simple  matter  to  assist  the  blind.  There 
are  no  rules  which  can  be  applied  in  all  cases,  because 
the  circumstances  and  needs  of  each  blind  person 
differ  from  those  of  every  other.  It  is,  therefore, 
necessary  to  decide  individually  what  method  is  best. 
The  other  commissioners  had  advantages  which  I 
did  not.  They  could  go  from  place  to  place  visiting 
the  blind,  obtaining  first  hand  information  about 
their  needs,  and  giving  them  expert  advice  as  to  the 
best  means  of  overcoming  their  handicap.  Besides,  I 
was  hampered  by  the  slowness  of  my  speech  and 
never  spoke  up  as  I  should  when  my  turn  came.  In 
college  the  professor  talked  on  the  same  subject 


88 


MIDSTREAM 


connectedly,  and  indicated  any  change  of  thought; 
but  when  several  people  are  talking  the  viewpoint 
shifts  constantly,  and  the  felicitous  remark  which  is 
on  the  tip  of  one's  tongue  never  gets  uttered.  Of 
course  this  is  true  of  most  conversation,  but  I  was 
chagrined  at  my  useless  figure  in  a  group  of  earnest 
servants  of  the  public  seeking  to  promote  a  cause 
which  truly  appealed  to  me.  After  some  months  I 
resigned  from  the  Commission,  and  I  resolved  sternly 
that  never  again  would  I  allow  myself  to  be  dragged 
into  undertakings  for  which  I  was  not  intended  by 
fate. 

I  knew  now  that  my  work  was  to  be  for  the  blind, 
and  I  had  begun  to  realize  that  I  could  not  do  for 
them  what  I  wanted  unless  I  could  present  their 
problems  for  discussion  before  legislatures,  medical 
associations,  and  conventions,  more  competently  than 
I  had  done  before.  To  do  that  I  must  improve  my 
speech. 

I  had  tried  a  number  of  teachers  and  had  always 
been  disappointed.  But  during  the  Christmas  holi- 
days in  1909  when  we  were  at  Woodstock,  Vermont, 
we  met  Mr.  Charles  A.  White,  a  well-known  teacher 
of  singing  at  the  Boston  Conservatory  of  Music.  At 
that  time  he  had  been  very  much  interested  in  my 
speech  and  expressed  a  wish  to  sec  what  he  could  do 
with  it.  A  year  later  wc  arranged  to  have  him  come 
out  to  Wrentham  every  Saturday  and  stay  over  Sun- 


LEADING  THE  BLIND  89 

day  that  he  might  give  me  lessons.  The  old  longing 
to  speak  like  other  people  came  back  stronger  than 
ever.  I  felt  the  tide  of  opportunity  rising  and  longed 
for  a  voice  that  would  be  equal  to  the  surge  that  was 
sweeping  me  out  into  the  world. 


Chapter  VI 


PER  ARDUA  PROXIME  AD  ASTRA 

The  acquirement  of  speech  is  not  easy  for  those  who 
cannot  hear.  The  difficulties  are  doubled  if  they  are 
blind  also.  But  the  educational  importance  of  speech 
to  the  deaf  cannot  be  exaggerated.  Without  a  lan- 
guage of  some  sort  one  is  not  a  human  being;  without 
speech  one  is  not  a  complete  human  being.  Even 
when  the  speech  is  not  beautiful  there  is  a  fountain 
of  joy  in  uttering  words.  It  is  an  emotional  experience 
quite  different  from  that  which  comes  from  spelled 
words. 

When  Miss  Sullivan  took  me  for  my  first  lessons 

in  articulation  to  Miss  Sarah  Fuller,  principal  of 

the  Horace  Mann  School  for  the  Deaf,  and  one  of 

the  pioneer  teachers  of  speech  in  this  country,  I  was 

nearly  ten  years  of  age.  The  only  sounds  I  uttered 

were  meaningless  noises,  usually  harsh  because  of 

the  great  effort  I  made  to  produce  them.  Miss  Fuller 

put  my  hand  on  her  face,  so  that  I  could  feel  the 

vibrations  of  her  voice,  and  slowly  and  very  distinctly 

made  the  sound  "ahm,"  while  Miss  Sullivan  spelled 

into  my  hand  the  word  arm.  I  imitated  the  sound  as 

90 


PER  ARDUA  PROXIME  AD  ASTRA  91 

well  as  I  could,  and  succeeded  after  several  attempts 
in  articulating  it  to  Miss  Fuller's  satisfaction. 

I  learned  to  speak  several  words  that  day  in 
breathy,  hollow  tones.  After  eleven  lessons  I  was  able 
to  say,  word  by  word,  "I-am-not-dumb-now."  Miss 
Fuller  tried  to  make  me  understand  that  I  must  speak 
softly,  and  not  stiffen  my  throat  or  jerk  my  tongue, 
but  I  could  not  help  straining  and  mouthing  every 
word.  I  know  now  that  my  lessons  should  have  been 
conducted  differently.  My  vocal  organs  should  have 
been  developed  first,  and  articulation  afterwards. 

This  would  have  approached  the  normal  method 
of  learning  speech.  The  normal  baby  hears  sounds 
from  the  moment  he  is  born  into  the  world.  He  lis- 
tens more  or  less  passively.  Then  he  cries  and  coos, 
and  in  countless  ways  exercises  the  delicate  organs  of 
speech  before  he  attempts  a  word.  Speech  descends 
upon  his  lips  like  dew  upon  a  flower.  Without  effort 
or  conscious  thought  he  utters  spontaneous  melodious 
sounds. 

How  different  is  the  situation  of  the  little  deaf 
child !  He  hears  no  sound.  No  voice  enters  the  silent 
cloister  of  his  ear.  Even  if  he  has  heard  for 
a  little  while,  as  I  did  for  nineteen  months,  he  soon 
forgets.  In  his  still  world  words  once  heard  fly 
like  swallows  in  the  autumn,  leaving  no  memory 
of  their  music.  He  does  not  use  his  vocal  organs, 
because  he  feels  no  desire  to  speak.  He  goes 


92  MIDSTREAM 

to  school  and  learns  slowly,  painfully,  to  substitute 
his  eyes  for  his  ears.  Intently  he  watches  his  teacher's 
mouth  as  she  makes  a  sound,  and  patiently  he  tries 
to  form  his  lips  and  move  his  tongue  in  imitation. 
Every  step  is  won  at  the  cost  of  painful  effort. 

Four  years  after  I  went  to  Miss  Fuller  I  entered 
the  Wright-Humason  Oral  School  in  New  York, 
where  for  two  years  I  received  lessons  in  speech  and 
lip  reading.  From  that  time  until  I  began  to  study 
with  Mr.  White,  Miss  Sullivan  helped  me  as  well  as 
she  could  to  improve  my  articulation.  I  was  happy 
because  my  family  could  understand  me,  also  those 
who  met  me  frequently  enough  to  become  accustomed 
to  my  speech.  I  found  out  that  to  speak  at  all  intel- 
ligibly meant  the  incessant  mastery  of  difficulties 
that  had  been  mastered  a  thousand  times.  For  years 
I  put  my  hand  on  Miss  Sullivan's  face,  observed  the 
motions  of  her  lips,  put  my  fingers  in  her  mouth  to 
feel  the  position  of  her  tongue,  and  repeated  over  and 
Dver  the  sounds  she  uttered,  sometimes  imitating  them 
perfectly,  then  losing  them  again.  Yet  I  never  wav- 
ered in  my  determination  to  learn  to  talk,  nor  did 
she  waver  in  her  determination  to  help  me. 

It  is  to  her  that  I  owe  most  of  the  progress  I  made 
in  this,  as  in  everything  else.  Her  work  with  me  has 
been  based  on  instinctive  good  sense  rather  than  on 
technical  knowledge  of  vocal  problem's.  By  per- 
sistent effort  she  improved  my  diction  and  kept  my 


PER  ARDUA  PROXIME  AD  ASTRA  93 

voice  as  pleasant  as  was  possible  under  the  circum- 
stances. She  has  tried  to  cultivate  softness,  but  this 
very  process  tended  to  make  the  vocal  organs  deficient 
in  resonance.  Moreover,  the  enormous  amount  of 
work  required  for  my  education  rendered  it  difficult 
to  give  my  speech  sufficient  attention.  This  was  un- 
fortunate, because  in  those  formative  years  much 
more  could  have  been  done  for  my  voice,  and  more 
easily  than  now.  I  say  this  to  emphasize  the  need  of 
early  and  continuous  training  throughout  the  grow- 
ing years  of  the  deaf  child. 

At  first  Mr.  White  and  I  regarded  my  speech 
lessons  as  experimental.  But  he  became  so  interested 
in  the  problems  that  presented  themselves  at  each 
lesson  that  he  continued  to  teach  me  for  three  years. 
He  spent  the  greater  part  of  two  summers  in  Wrent- 
ham.  He  would  not  take  money  for  these  lessons, 
declaring  that  he  would  be  amply  repaid  if  he 
succeeded  in  helping  me.  His  delightful  personality, 
his  patience  and  perseverance  and  his  quick  sympathy 
endeared  him  to  us  all.  I  have  a  memory  picture  of 
his  kind,  expressive  face  which  I  cherish,  and  of  his 
dear  hand  spelling  out  instructions  without  end.  My 
heart  warms  as  I  recall  the  tireless  encouragement 
with  which  he  braced  me  when  I  failed  and  failed. 

I  can  give  only  a  brief  account  of  Mr.  White's 
work  with  me  here.  He  learned  the  manual  alphabet 
so  he  could  work  with  me  just  as  he  would  with  any 


94  MIDSTREAM 

other  pupil.  First,  he  directed  my  attention  to  posi- 
tion and  breathing,  and  proceeded  to  get  the  lower 
ribs  and  diaphragm  to  participate  more  freely  in  the 
act  of  respiration.  I  then  practised  to  open  the  reso- 
nating cavities  through  inhalation,  and  maintain  this 
position  through  control  of  breath.  His  idea  was  to 
get  the  cavities  of  resonance  under  the  control  of  the 
will  before  using  the  larynx.  I  therefore  practised 
exercises  without  tone.  The  failure  of  my  vocal 
chords  to  come  together  was  the  chief  defect,  and  I 
still  have  much  trouble  in  getting  proper  glottic 
closure.  After  securing  this,  I  experimented  in  dif- 
ferent degrees  of  resistance  in  order  to  vary  the 
tension  of  the  chords. 

Having  obtained  some  control  of  these  three  fac- 
tors of  voice — motor,  vibrator,  and  resonator — I 
studied  vowels  and  consonants  separately  and  in 
combination.  Mr.  White  classified  them  according  to 
a  plan  which  he  had  thought  out  and  used  in  his 
work  with  his  pupils  in  the  Conservatory. 

After  this  drill,  I  was  ready  to  practise  actual 
speech.  But  when  Mr.  White  tried  to  give  me  accents 
and  rhythm,  he  found  that  although  I  could  recog- 
nize the  changes  of  accent  and  rhythm  he  gave  me,  I 
could  not  project  rhythms  myself.  Therefore  it  was 
necessary  for  him  to  train  this  sense.  After  repeated 
trials  I  got  two  units  of  equal  duration,  which  opened 
the  way  for  further  development.  Mr.  White  did  this 


PER  ARDUA  PROXIME  AD  ASTRA  95 

by  patting  my  hand,  first  taking  double,  then  triple 
and  quadruple,  measure,  in  simple  and  compound 
forms,  and  in  syncopation.  After  this  preparatory 
work,  Mr.  White  was  surprised  that  I  could  not 
coordinate  the  spoken  word  with  the  motion  of  the 
hand.  This  difficulty  was  soon  overcome,  however, 
and  rhythm  and  accent  could  be  utilized. 

Finally  came  the  matter  of  pitch  and  quality.  At 
first  I  showed  no  ability  to  raise  or  lower  the  pitch 
at  will,  and  had  to  experiment  with  it.  By  this  time 
I  had  become  somewhat  expert  in  detecting  the 
changes  which  took  place  in  the  throat  by  lightly 
placing  my  fingers  on  Mr.  White's  throat  and  my 
own,  and  when  he  started  a  tone  in  a  low  pitch  and 
suddenly  raised  it,  say,  an  octave,  I  soon  caught  the 
idea.  To  Mr.  White's  amazement,  after  following 
this  method  for  some  time,  he  found  that  I  could 
approximate  definite  pitches.  He  would  ask  me  to 
sing  an  octave  on  ''sol,"  and  I  did  it  from  my  own 
sense  of  pitch.  Then  he  asked  for  an  octave  one 
note  higher,  ''La,  la."  When  I  sounded  the  note,  Mr. 
White  struck  a  tuning  fork  against  the  desk.  My 
tone  corresponded  with  that  of  the  fork,  and  I  also 
sounded  the  intervals  of  a  third  and  a  fifth. 

It  was  a  long  time  before  he  could  build  my  voice 
up  so  that  I  could  practise  anything  for  the  platform. 
Then  the  voice  we  had  laboured  for  so  hopefully 
became  quite  unmanageable.  It  would  dive  down  so 


96  MIDSTREAM 

low  or  jump  up  so  high  that  we  were  all  discon- 
certed. A  little  rain  or  wind  or  dust,  a  wave  of  excite- 
ment, was  enough  to  send  it  on  a  rampage,  and  I 
still  marvel  at  the  forbearance  of  the  family  who  had 
to  hear  me  morning,  afternoon,  and  evening.  A  hear- 
ing person  speaks  a  language  learned  he  knows  not 
how,  and  can  f oreshape  his  words  without  conscious 
thought.  I  had  not  this  boon  of  nature.  What  I  said 
at  night  in  one  way  I  would  say  the  next  morning 
very  differently,  the  sensations  varied  so  disturbingly 
from  day  to  day.  A  multitude  of  little  vibrations  that 
I  had  not  noticed  before  bewildered  me.  I  would 
practise,  practise,  and  perhaps  capture  a  firm,  clear 
tone,  only  to  have  it  escape  me  mysteriously.  If  I  let 
fall  a  natural  utterance  without  thinking,  and  tried 
to  repeat  it,  it  eluded  me. 

It  was  three  years  before  we  felt  I  might  try  a 
public  appearance.  Then  it  was  arranged  that  my 
teacher  and  I  should  give  a  demonstration  of  her 
work  and  my  speech  in  Montclair,  New  Jersey.  It 
was  in  February,  1913. 

I  wonder  if  anyone  has  ever  made  his  first  ap- 
pearance upon  the  platform  with  keener  anguish. 
Terror  invaded  my  flesh,  my  mind  froze,  my  heart 
stopped  beating.  I  kept  repeating,  "What  shall  I  do? 
What  shall  I  do  to  calm  this  tumult  within  me?" 
Desperately  I  prayed,  as  the  moment  approached  to 
go  out  before  the  audience,  "O  God,  let  me  pour 


PER  ARDUA  PROXIME  AD  ASTRA  97 

out  my  voice  freely."  I  know  I  felt  much  as  General 
Wolfe's  men  must  have  felt  when  in  broad  daylight 
they  measured  with  their  eyes  the  Heights  of  Abra- 
ham they  had  scaled  in  the  dark — walls  bristling  with 
cannon ! 

Oh,  that  first  appearance  in  Montclair,  New 
Jersey!  Until  my  dying  day  I  shall  think  of  that  stage 
as  a  pillory  where  I  stood  cold,  riveted,  trembling, 
voiceless.  Words  thronged  to  my  lips,  but  no  syllable 
could  I  utter.  At  last  I  forced  a  sound.  It  felt  to  me 
like  a  cannon  going  off,  but  they  told  me  afterwards 
it  was  a  mere  whisper. 

I  tried  to  remember  everything  Mr.  White  had  told 
me  to  do,  but  alas!  Not  a  rule  came  to  my  assistance. 
Mustering  all  the  will  power  and  obstinacy  of  my 
nature  I  went  on  to  the  end  of  the  speech.  I  was 
constantly  between  Charybdis  and  Scylla ;  sometimes 
I  felt  my  voice  soaring  and  I  knew  that  meant 
falsetto ;  frantically  I  dragged  it  down  till  my  words 
fell  about  me  like  loose  bricks.  Oh,  if  that  kindly 
custom  of  Athens,  that  of  accompanying  an  orator 
with  a  flute,  could  have  prevailed,  or  if  only  an 
orchestra  could  have  drowned  my  faltering  speech, 
it  would  not  have  been  so  terrible.  At  last  the  ordeal 
was  over.  Everyone  was  kind  and  sympathetic,  but  I 
knew  I  had  failed.  All  the  eloquence  which  was  to 
bring  light  to  the  blind  lay  crumpled  at  my  feet.  I 
came  off  the  stage  in  despair,  my  face  deluged  with 


98  MIDSTREAM 

tears,  my  breast  heaving  with  sobs,  my  whole  body 
crying  out,  "Oh,  it  is  too  difficult,  too  difficult,  I 
cannot  do  the  impossible."  But  in  a  little  while  faith 
and  hope  and  love  came  back  and  I  returned  to  my 
practising. 

I  have  not  succeeded  completely  in  realizing  the 
desire  of  my  childhood  to  "talk  like  other  people." 
I  know  now  how  vain  that  wish  was,  and  how  ex- 
travagant my  expectations  were  when  I  began  my 
speech  lessons.  It  is  not  humanly  possible,  I  believe, 
for  one  who  has  been  deaf  from  early  infancy  to  do 
more  than  approximate  natural  speech. 

Since  my  tenth  year  I  have  laboured  unceasingly 
to  speak  so  that  others  can  understand  me  without 
concentrated  attention.  I  have  had  excellent  instruc- 
tors and  the  constant  assistance  of  my  teacher.  Yet  I 
have  only  partially  conquered  the  hostile  silence.  I 
have  a  voice  that  ministers  to  my  work  and  my  happi- 
ness. It  is  not  a  pleasant  voice,  I  am  afraid,  but  I  have 
clothed  its  broken  wings  in  the  unfading  hues  of  my 
dreams  and  my  struggle  for  it  has  strengthened  every 
fibre  of  my  being  and  deepened  my  understanding  of 
all  human  strivings  and  disappointed  ambitions. 


Chapter  VII 


WANDERINGS 

We  lectured  only  occasionally  at  first,  as  we  were 
feeling  our  way  towards  a  programme  which  would 
be  acceptable  to  our  audiences.  All  kinds  of  people 
came  to  hear  us — the  poor,  the  young,  the  blind,  the 
deaf,  and  others  handicapped  in  the  race  of  life,  and 
naturally  their  interest  in  me  made  me  want  to  give 
them  special  messages  of  cheer  or  encouragement. 

We  were  warmly  received  wherever  we  went,  and 
encouraged  to  go  on  with  our  work.  Mrs.  Macy  had 
a  natural  gift  of  public  speaking,  and  I  was  fre- 
quently told  by  strangers  with  what  pleasure  the 
audience  listened  to  her  story  of  how  she  taught  me. 
She  lectured  a  whole  hour,  while  I  sat  quietly  in  the 
anteroom,  reading  to  pass  the  time.  When  my  turn 
came,  my  mother,  or  anyone  who  happened  to  ac- 
company us,  brought  me  to  the  platform.  I  placed 
iriy  fingers  on  Mrs.  Macy's  mouth,  and  we  showed 
the  audience  how  I  could  read  the  lips.  The  people 
asked  questions,  and  I  answered  them  as  well  as  I 
could.  Thus  they  became  more  accustomed  to  my 
imperfect  speech.  Afterwards  I  talked  about  happi- 
ness, or  the  value  of  the  senses  when  well  trained,  or 

99 


lOO 


MIDSTREAM 


the  intimate  dependence  of  all  human  beings  one 
upon  another  in  the  emergencies  of  life.  I  never 
attained  ease  of  delivery  or  pleasantness  of  voice. 
There  v^ere  times,  I  am  sure,  when  the  audience 
could  not  follow  me  at  all.  Either  my  voice  w^ould 
rise  into  a  queer  falsetto,  or  it  v^ould  dive  down  in 
the  depths.  It  shunned  the  via  media.  I  swallowed 
the  very  words  I  especially  wanted  my  listeners  to 
hear.  I  pushed  and  strained,  I  pounded.  I  defeated 
myself  with  tQo  much  effort.  I  committed  every  sin 
against  the  dignity  and  grace  of  speech.  The  slightest 
noise  I  felt  in  the  hall  was  disconcerting,  as  I  could 
not  tell  if  I  was  heard  or  not,  and  I  almost  collapsed 
when  a  chair  was  moved,  or  a  street  car  rattled  past 
the  doors.  But  the  audience  was  always  patient. 
Whether  they  understood  me  or  not,  they  showered 
me  with  good  wishes  and  flowers  and  encouragement, 
as  the  Lord  loads  us  with  benefits  despite  our  imper- 
fections. Little  by  little  they  began  to  get  more  of 
what  I  said.  One  of  my  happiest  moments  was  when 
I  spoke  to  a  large  number  of  children  at  a  school 
on  the  East  Side  in  New  York,  and  they  were  able  to 
understand  me  when  I  repeated  "Mary  had  a  little 
lamb."  Always  I  was  compensated  for  my  crippled 
speech  by  the  interest  and  enthusiasm  with  which  my 
teacher's  lecture  on  my  education  was  received.  I  was 
told  by  those  who  heard  her  more  than  once  that  it 
always  seemed  as  if  she  were  giving  her  story  for  the 


WANDERINGS 


lOI 


first  time,  she  put  such  freshness  and  imagination  and 
love  into  it.  Sometimes  the  audience  was  so  silent  that 
we  were  rather  disturbed,  thinking  that  we  had  bored 
them ;  but  afterwards  I  found  out  that  they  were  so 
interested  in  my  teacher's  story,  they  forgot  to  ap- 
plaud, and  we  felt  it  the  highest  compliment  they 
could  have  paid  us. 

At  first  we  lectured  only  occasionally  in  New 
England,  New  York,  New  Jersey,  and  other  states 
near  by,  but  little  by  little  we  began  to  go  farther 
afield.  I 

We  spoke  at  the  opening  of  the  New  York  Light-  | 
house  for  the  Blind  by  Henry  Holt's  beautiful  j 
daughter  who  is  now  Mrs.  Mather.  On  that  occasion  \ 
we  met  President  Taft  who  had  a  second  time  left 
his  arduous  duties  in  Washington  to  lift  up  his  voice 
for  the  cause  of  the  sightless.  I  shall  always  picture 
him,  big,  kind,  benevolent,  as  he  exhorted  the  audi- 
ence, "Let  us  bring  about  as  nearly  as  possible  equal 
opportunity  for  the  seeing  and  those  who  are  denied 
the  blessings  of  sight." 

The  Lighthouse  grew  out  of  one  of  the  happiest 
thoughts  of  our  generation.  One  day  Mrs.  Mather 
and  her  sister  saw  some  blind  boys  enjoying  a  con- 
cert in  Italy.  Others  had  seen  blind  persons  enjoy 
music,  but  had  not  acted  upon  the  suggestions  it 
offered.  When  these  two  young  ladies  came  back  to 
New  York  they  formed  a  committee  for  the  distri- 


102 


MIDSTREAM 


bution  among  the  blind  of  unsold  tickets  to  concerts. 
Thus  they  came  into  contact  with  the  needs  of  the 
blind,  and  it  was  not  long  before  they  were  asking 
themselves  and  others  why  the  blind  should  not  be 
employed.  They  were  told  that  in  the  world  of  ma- 
chinery, specialized  industry,  and  keen  competition, 
the  blind  man  could  not  expect  to  find  profitable 
occupation.  They  were  even  told  that  it  would  be 
cruel  to  add  the  burden  of  labour  to  the  burden  of 
infirmity.  As  if  to  be  without  work  were  not  the 
heaviest  burden  mortal  could  be  called  upon  to 
endure! 

They  organized  the  New  York  Association  for  the 
Blind  and  opened  the  first  Lighthouse.  The  work 
has  grown  strong  and  prospered  these  many  years 
under  the  direction  of  Mrs.  Mather.  She  tells  the 
public,  "We  do  not  ask  for  charity  but  for  justice — 
for  an  opportunity  for  your  blind  brother  and  sister 
to  have  a  fair  chance.  Won't  you  help  to  give  it  to 
them,  and  won't  you  give  yourself  the  rare  oppor- 
tunity of  investing  in  a  gift  of  light?  Help  us  by 
your  generosity  to  approach  successfully  our  ideals  of 
service.  As  that  great  friend  of  our  organization  in 
its  early  days,  Carl  Schurz,  said:  ^Ideals  are  like 
stars — ^you  cannot  touch  them  with  your  fingers,  but 
like  the  mariner  on  the  desert  of  waters,  you  can 
follow  them,  and  following  come  to  port.' " 

In  191 3  I  spoke  in  Washington.  I  went  down 


WANDERINGS  103 

shortly  before  the  inauguration  of  Woodow  Wilson 
to  attend  a  woman  suffrage  demonstration  and 
stayed  through  the  inauguration  because  the  United 
Press  asked  me  to  report  the  event  for  its  papers.  I 
remember  that  it  was  a  mild,  gray  day.  I  felt  no  sun, 
but  a  slight  breeze.  It  was  good  marching  weather 
for  the  troops,  and  I  noticed  a  delightful  smell  of 
spring  in  the  air.  We  waited  about  two  hours  before 
the  parade  began.  The  crowd  was  already  consider- 
able. It  kept  increasing,  and  I  felt  the  masses  of 
humanity  as  they  moved  up  the  steps,  causing  the 
stand  to  vibrate.  It  was  a  clean,  good-natured  crowd, 
and  I  enjoyed  being  in  a  multitude  of  men,  women, 
and  children  who  were  having  a  good  time.  I  liked 
best  of  all  the  rich  and  far-rolling  music  of  the  bands 
and  the  descriptions  my  teacher  and  Mr.  Macy  gave 
me  of  the  handsome  troops.  The  parade  was  ornate, 
elaborate,  and  expensive,  but  it  was  very  jolly,  and 
as  regiment  after  regiment  passed  I  could  not  help 
wishing  that  our  soldiers  never  had  to  do  anything 
but  look  handsome  and  salute  the  President. 

I  should  have  been  more  deeply  stirred  if  I  could 
have  felt  that  the  great  ceremony  ushered  in  a  new 
day.  For  Mr.  Wilson  himself  I  had  the  highest  re- 
spect, but  I  felt,  even  then,  that  the  forces  arrayed 
against  him  were  stronger  than  he  could  combat. 

I  had  met  him  some  years  before  at  Mr.  Lawrence 
Mutton's  on  the  occasion  of  which  I  have  already 


I04  MIDSTREAM 

spoken  when  Mark  Twain  denounced  the  murder  of 
noncombatants  in  the  Philippines  by  American  sol- 
diers. During  the  whole  of  Mr.  Clemens's  speech 
while  the  rest  of  us  were  listening  breathlessly  Mr. 
Wilson  sat  at  a  window  looking  out  into  the  night. 
When  Mr.  Hutton  asked  him  what  he  thought  of  it 
he  replied  something  like  this:  '^Much  heroism  does 
not  always  keep  military  men  from  committing 
follies."  He  asked  me  why  I  had  chosen  Radcliffe 
College  rather  than  Wellesley,  Smith,  or  Bryn 
Mawr.  I  said,  "Because  they  didn't  want  me  at  Rad- 
cliffe, and  as  I  was  stubborn  by  nature,  I  chose  to 
override  their  objections."  He  asked  if  I  thought  a 
personal  triumph  was  worth  the  expenditure  it  en- 
tailed. Mr.  Wilson  was  exceedingly  reserved,  but  I 
did  not  think  he  was  cold.  Far  from  it.  He  seemed 
like  a  smouldering  fire  that  might  blaze  up  at  any 
moment.  I  gathered  from  the  conversation  round 
Mr.  Hutton's  table  that  most  of  the  men  thought  him 
shrewd,  and  that  his  wisdom  surpassed  that  of  most 
scholars  of  the  day. 

There  is  no  way  of  measuring  what  President 
Wilson  might  have  accomplished  for  his  country  if 
the  War  had  not  upset  the  world.  History  must  judge 
the  men  who  are  entrusted  with  power  by  the  bless- 
ings they  confer  on  mankind.  It  seems  like  bitter 
irony  to  ask  whether  President  Wilson  did  all  that 
was  possible  under  the  circumstances  which  sur- 


WANDERINGS  105 

rounded  him.  If  we  judge  him  by  the  rule  of  his 
associates  at  Versailles,  his  conduct  was  not  more 
reprehensible  than  theirs;  but  if  we  judge  him  by 
the  standard  of  his  intentions,  his  failure  was  colossal. 
Commander-in-chief  of  a  vast  and  splendidly 
equipped  army  with  inexhaustible  resources,  and 
head  of  a  country  that  was  the  provider  and  creditor 
of  all  Europe,  it  seems  as  if  he  might  have  stood 
steadfast,  especially  as  the  good  will  of  the  common 
people  of  all  countries  was  with  him.  Even  if  the 
bankers  of  the  world  had  ultimately  forced  an  un- 
righteous peace  upon  the  belligerents  President  Wil- 
son would  have  kept  his  prestige  and  the  moral 
leadership  of  the  people,  and  he  would  have  gone 
down  in  history  as  one  of  the  noblest  champions  of 
humanity.  As  it  was,  he  made  compromise  with  his 
own  soul.  He  lost  his  health,  he  lost  popular  favour, 
and  he  lost  his  self-confidence.  No  one  can  tell  how 
many  centuries  his  failure  set  back  the  progress  of 
the  world ;  but  only  those  blinded  by  hate  can  doubt 
the  nobility  of  his  aims. 

He  did  not  live  to  see  the  victory  of  his  cause,  but 
he  thought  and  wrote  things  that  no  head  of  a  country 
before  him  had  thought  and  written.  The  humblest 
and  the  mightiest  of  the  earth  listened  to  his  words, 
which  seemed  to  announce  in  golden  accents  a  fairer 
morality  among  nations.  The  better  day  which  he 
prophesied  will  come  because  it  must  come.  Great 


io6  MIDSTREAM 

ideals  do  not  attain  the  summit  of  our  vision  in  a 
day.  Great  ideals  must  be  tempered  to  human  under- 
standing, as  the  wind  to  the  shorn  lamb. 

Kipling  tells  an  ancient  legend  which  seems  to  me 
to  apply  to  President  Wilson.  A  man  who  wrought 
a  most  notable  deed  wished  to  explain  to  his  tribe 
what  he  had  done.  As  soon  as  he  began  to  speak, 
however,  he  was  smitten  with  dumbness,  and  sat 
down.  Then  there  arose  a  man  who  had  taken  no 
part  in  the  action,  and  who  had  no  special  virtues, 
but  who  was  gifted  with  the  magic  of  words.  He 
described  the  merits  of  the  notable  deed  in  such  a 
fashion  that  the  words  became  alive,  and  walked  up 
and  down  in  the  hearts  of  all  his  hearers.  Thereupon 
the  tribe,  seeing  that  the  words  were  certainly  alive, 
and  fearing  lest  the  man  with  the  words  would  hand 
down  untrue  tales  about  them  to  their  children,  took 
and  killed  him.  But  later  they  saw  that  the  magic  was 
in  the  words,  not  in  the  man.  Future  generations  will 
discover  that  the  power  of  President  Wilson  was  in 
his  words,  not  in  him. 


Chapter  VIII 


MY   OLDEST  FRIEND 

I  DO  not  remember  whether  I  lectured  before  or 
after  the  Inauguration,  but  I  do  remember  that  I 
was  introduced  by  Dr.  Alexander  Graham  Bell.  It 
was  a  very  happy  occasion.  This  was  not  the  first 
time  I  had  appeared  on  the  platform  with  him. 
When  I  was  a  little  girl,  just  learning  to  talk,  my 
teacher  and  I  used  to  go  with  him  to  conventions  to 
further  the  teaching  of  speech  to  the  deaf. 

Someone  has  said  that  a  beautiful  memory  is  the 
most  precious  wealth  one  can  possess.  I  am  indeed 
rich  in  happy  memories  of  Dr.  Bell.  Most  people 
know  him  as  the  inventor  of  the  telephone ;  those  who 
are  familiar  with  his  work  for  the  deaf,  believe  that 
what  he  did  for  them  was  as  important  as  his  great 
invention.  I  admired  him  for  both,  but  I  remember 
him  not  so  much  as  a  great  inventor  or  as  a  great 
benefactor,  but  as  an  affectionate  and  understanding 
friend. 

I  could  almost  call  him  my  oldest  friend.  Even 

before  my  teacher  came  he  held  out  a  warm  hand  to 

me  in  the  dark;  indeed,  it  was  through  him  that  Mr. 

Anagnos  sent  her  to  me,  but  little  did  he  dream,  or 

107 


io8  MIDSTREAM 

I,  that  he  was  to  be  the  medium  of  God's  best  gift 
to  me. 

From  the  beginning  he  enthusiastically  approved 
Miss  Sullivan's  methods  in  teaching  me.  In  a  letter 
to  Mr.  Macy  shortly  after  The  Story  of  My  Life 
was  published  he  says  of  some  letters  of  hers  which 
are  printed  there  in  which  she  tells  how  she  taught 
me: 

They  reveal  the  fact  that  has  long  been  suspected,  that  Helen's 
remarkable  achievements  are  as  much  due  to  the  genius  of  her 
teacher,  as  to  her  own  brilliant  mind.  .  .  .  They  also  prove  that 
Miss  Sullivan  vi^as  vrrong  vrhen  she  gave  us  the  impression  that 
she  acted  without  method  in  the  instruction  of  Helen — groping  her 
way  along  and  acting  only  on  the  spur  of  the  moment.  They  show 
that  she  was  guided  all  along  by  principles  of  the  greatest  impor- 
tance in  the  education  of  the  deaf — that  she  did  have  a  method, 
and  the  results  have  shown  that  her  method  was  a  true  one. 

In  a  letter  to  Mrs.  Macy  about  the  same  time,  he 
says : 

They  are  of  the  greatest  value  and  importance.  These  letters 
.  .  .  will  become  a  standard,  the  principles  that  guided  you  in  the 
early  education  of  Helen  are  of  the  greatest  importance  to  all 
teachers. 

Dr.  Bell's  interest  in  the  deaf  did  not  begin  with 
his  own  life.  The  science  of  speech  had  long  been 
studied  in  the  Bell  family.  Dr.  Bell's  grandfather 
was  the  inventor  of  a  device  to  overcome  stammering, 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  109 

and  his  father,  Mr.  Melville  Bell,  whom  I  used 
often  to  see  when  I  visited  the  Bells  in  Washington, 
perfected  a  system  of  visible  speech  as  a  means  of 
teaching  the  deaf  which  Dr.  Bell  considered  more 
important  than  his  invention  of  the  telephone, 
though,  as  Mr.  Melville  Bell  is  reported  to  have 
said,  "There  was  not  so  much  money  in  it."  To  learn 
speech  by  means  of  it  demands  more  patience  than 
our  western  countries  have,  but  it  has  been  found 
serviceable  in  the  Orient,  and  his  classification  of 
speech  sounds  is  the  basis  of  the  pronunciation  sys- 
tem in  the  Oxford  Dictionary  which  has  just  been 
completed. 

The  devotion  of  Dr.  Bell  to  his  father  was 
beautiful.  How  like  they  were,  and  how  different! 
Melville  Bell  was  the  more  reposeful  and  domestic. 
His  tastes  were  simple,  and  did  not  change  when 
wealth  came  to  his  son.  He  continued  to  live  in  the 
same  little  house  in  the  same  contented  and  frugal 
manner.  His  breakfast,  though  he  had  been  many 
years  away  from  Scotland,  still  consisted  of  oatmeal 
porridge,  which  he  ate  in  Scotch  fashion,  dipping 
the  spoon  of  hot  porridge  into  the  bowl  of  cold  milk. 

If  anything  kept  Dr.  Bell  from  visiting  his  father 
for  a  day  or  two,  he  would  say,  "Come,  I  must  see 
my  father.  A  chat  with  him  is  just  the  tonic  I  need." 

In  Professor  Bell's  charming  little  cottage  at 
Colonial  Beach  at  the  point  where  the  Potomac 


no  MIDSTREAM 

meets  the  sea  I  used  often  to  see  these  two  noble  men 
sitting  on  the  porch  for  hours  without  speaking  a 
word,  smoking  peacefully  and  watching  the  steamers 
and  boats  pass  along  the  river  on  their  errands  of 
service.  Sometimes  an  unusual  bird  note  would  attract 
their  attention,  and  the  son  would  ask,  ^'How  would 
you  record  that,  father?"  Then  the  resources  of  the 
visible  speech  system  would  be  tested  out,  and  the 
two  men  would  become  absorbed  in  phonetics,  un- 
mindful of  everything  about  them.  Every  note  was 
analyzed  and  visibly  recorded.  Occasionally  a  twitter 
presented  difficulties  which  took  hours  to  solve. 

Both  men  had  an  intense  desire  to  remedy  every 
defect  of  enunciation,  and  I  have  been  told  that  it 
was  a  joy  to  listen  to  their  speech.  My  teacher  often 
spoke  of  it,  and  Mr.  Watson,  Dr.  Bell's  assistant  in 
the  invention  of  the  telephone,  says,  in  his  book, 
Exploring  Life,  "His  clear,  crisp  articulation  de- 
lighted me,  and  made  other  men's  speech  seem  un- 
couth." Both  had  at  various  periods  been  teachers  of 
elocution,  and  both  loved  to  recite. 

Dr.  Bell  was  exceedingly  tender  to  his  mother, 
who  was  quite  deaf  when  I  knew  her.  I  recall  a 
spring  afternoon  when  Dr.  Bell  took  Miss  Sullivan 
and  me  for  a  drive  in  the  country.  We  gathered 
quantities  of  honeysuckle,  pink  and  white  dogwood, 
and  wild  azaleas.  On  our  way  back  we  stopped  to 
give  them  to  Mrs.  Melville  Bell.  Dr.  Bell  said,  "Let 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  iii 

us  go  in  by  the  porch  door  and  surprise  them."  On 
the  steps  he  paused  and  spelled  into  my  hand,  "Hush! 
They  are  both  asleep."  We  tiptoed  about,  arrang- 
ing the  flowers.  It  was  a  picture  never  to  be  forgotten 
— those  two  dear  people  seated  in  armchairs,  Mrs. 
Bell's  white  head  bowed  on  her  breast,  Mr.  Bell's 
head  thrown  back  on  the  chair,  his  beard  and  curly 
hair  framing  his  ruddy  face  like  a  statue  of  Zeus. 
We  left  them  undisturbed  with  the  flowers  and  their 
dreams. 

I  was  always  glad  to  visit  Dr.  Bell's  family  in 
Washington  or  at  their  summer  home  in  Cape 
Breton.  I  admired  Mrs.  Bell  for  the  courage  and 
perseverance  with  which  she  conquered  her  handi- 
cap of  deafness.  She  was  a  wonderful  lip  reader,  and 
certainly  she  needed  patience,  skill,  and  humour  to 
read  the  lips  of  the  countless  visitors  who  came  to 
the  house.  She  never  spelled  on  her  fingers  because 
she  believed  that  this  system  of  communication  iso- 
lated the  deaf  from  normal  people.  She  loved 
beautiful  lace  and  used  to  hold  a  filmy  web  in  her 
hands  and  show  me  how  to  trace  the  woven  flowers 
and  leaves,  the  saucy  Cupids,  the  silken  winding 
streams,  and  the  lacy  criss-cross  of  fairy  paths  bor- 
dered with  aerial  boughs.  The  two  small  daughters, 
Elsie  and  Daisy,  were  always  ready  to  play  with  me, 
and  Daisy  tried  to  put  all  the  bright  things  she  heard 
into  my  hand  so  I  could  laugh  with  her. 


112 


MIDSTREAM 


There  were  often  distinguished  gatherings  when 
I  was  introduced  to  learned  scientists — Professor 
Langley,  Professor  Newcomb,  Major  Powell,  and 
others.  Dr.  Bell  used  to  spell  what  they  said  to  me. 
He  always  assumed  that  anyone  could  understand 
anything.  He  would  explain  to  me  the  laws  of 
physics  or  some  principle  of  magnetism;  but  no 
matter  how  abstruse  his  discourse  might  be,  or  how 
little  of  it  I  understood,  I  loved  to  listen  to  him. 

He  was  one  of  those  exceptional  mortals  who  can 
never  be  in  a  room  two  minutes  before  the  whole 
talk  converges  in  their  direction.  People  chose  to 
listen  to  him  instead  of  talking.  He  had  an  extraordi- 
nary gift  of  presenting  difficult  problems  in  a  simple 
and  vivid  manner,  a  gift  which,  in  my  experience,  is 
one  of  the  rarest  possessed  by  human  beings.  Profes- 
sor Langley  did  not  have  it  in  the  slightest  degree. 

Dr.  Bell  was  never  dogmatic  in  his  conversation. 
He  was,  I  think,  the  only  person  I  ever  knew  who 
could  look  at  a  subject  from  a  point  of  view  entirely 
different  from  his  own  with  genuine  interest  and 
enthusiasm.  When  it  was  presented  to  him  he  would 
say,  "Perhaps  you  are  right.  Let  us  see." 

His  gifts  as  an  orator  are  not  known  to  the  public 
in  general  because  he  chose  to  exercise  them  in  behalf 
of  an  obscure  group,  living  in  silence,  in  whom  the 
public  interest  is  not  what  it  should  be.  But  I  know 
what  eloquent  speech  is.  I  have  stood  beside  Dr.  Bell 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  113 

on  the  platform  and  felt  speech  coming  from  his  lips, 
and  eloquence  in  his  voice,  his  attitude,  his  gestures 
all  at  once.  Never  have  I  longed  more  intensely  for 
natural  speech  as  on  these  occasions.  After  he  had 
talked  awhile  he  would  touch  my  arm,  I  would  rise 
and  place  my  hand  on  his  lips  to  show  the  audience 
how  I  could  read  what  he  was  saying.  I  wish  words 
could  portray  him  as  I  saw  him  in  those  exalted 
moods — the  majesty  of  his  presence,  the  noble  and 
spirited  poise  and  action  of  his  head,  the  strong  fea- 
tures partly  masked  by  a  beautiful  beard  that  rippled 
and  curled  beneath  my  fingers,  the  inspired  expres- 
sion which  came  into  his  face  when  he  was  deeply 
moved.  His  splendid  head  is  lifted,  his  nostrils  dilate, 
and  his  gestures  are  large,  harmonious  movements 
of  the  body,  like  his  thoughts.  No  one  can  resist  so 
much  energy,  such  power. 

All  his  life  Dr.  Bell  earnestly  advocated  the  oral 
method  of  instruction  for  the  deaf.  Eloquently  he 
pointed  out  the  folly  of  developing  a  deaf  variety  of 
the  human  race,  and  showed  the  economic,  moral, 
and  social  advantages  that  would  result  from  teach- 
ing them  in  the  public  schools  with  normal  children. 
He  regarded  the  sign  system  as  a  barrier  to  the 
acquisition  of  language  and  insistently  urged  its 
abolition.  He  deplored  the  segregation  and  inter- 
marriage of  deaf  mutes,  and  felt  that  so  long  as  their 
only  way  of  communication  was  through  signs  and 


114  MIDSTREAM 

the  manual  alphabet,  they  would  be  isolated  from 
society  and  very  few  of  them  would  ever  rise  to  the 
position  of  the  average  intelligent  man  or  woman. 

Yet  the  manual  alphabet  and  the  sign  system  have 
zealous  defenders.  They  are  both  easier  to  acquire, 
but  the  ultimate  results  are  not  comparable  to  those 
of  the  oral  system  by  means  of  which  the  pupil  is 
taught  to  read  the  lips  and  answer  in  his  own  voice. 
In  my  case  there  was  no  choice :  my  additional  handi- 
cap of  blindness  made  the  use  of  the  manual  alphabet 
essential.  Later  I  learned  to  read  the  lips,  but  I  think 
my  education  would  have  been  greatly  retarded  if  I 
had  begun  with  the  lip  reading  in  the  first  place. 

Every  teacher  of  the  deaf,  no  matter  what  system 
he  advocates,  has  been  influenced  by  Dr.  Bell.  He 
broadcast  his  ideas  in  the  truest  scientific  spirit,  with 
no  ambitious  aim.  For  a  number  of  years  he  main- 
tained at  his  own  expense  an  experimental  school  in 
Washington  where  practical  work  could  be  carried 
on  in  finding  better  ways  of  teaching  very  young  deaf 
children.  He  helped  Dr.  Fay,  of  Gallaudet  College, 
collect  statistics  concerning  the  deaf,  and  it  was  at 
his  suggestion  that  the  American  Association  for 
Promoting  the  Teaching  of  Speech  to  the  Deaf  was 
organized  in  1890.  He  contributed  twenty-five 
thousand  dollars  towards  its  work  and  was  tireless 
in  devoting  his  energy  to  placing  its  cause  before  the 
public.  With  the  money  which  was  given  him  as  the 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  115 

Volta  prize  for  his  invention  of  the  telephone  he 
established  the  Volta  bureau  in  Washington  for  the 
dissemination  of  information  regarding  the  deaf.  He 
strove  unceasingly  to  make  it  possible  for  every  child 
without  hearing  to  acquire  speech. 

You  who  see  and  hear  may  not  realize  that  the 
teaching  of  speech  to  the  deaf  is  one  of  the  divinest 
miracles  of  the  Nineteenth  Century.  Perhaps  it  is 
impossible  for  one  who  sees  and  hears  to  realize  what 
it  means  to  be  both  deaf  and  dumb.  Ours  is  not  the 
stillness  which  soothes  the  weary  senses;  it  is  an  in- 
human silence  which  severs  and  estranges.  It  is  a 
silence  not  to  be  broken  by  a  word  of  greeting,  or 
the  song  of  birds,  or  the  sigh  of  a  breeze.  It  is  a 
silence  which  isolates  cruelly,  completely.  Two  hun- 
dred years  ago  there  was  not  a  ray  of  hope  for  us.  In 
an  indifferent  world  not  one  voice  was  lifted  in  our 
behalf.  Yet  hearing  is  the  deepest,  most  humanizing, 
philosophical  sense  man  possesses  and  lonely  ones  all 
over  the  world,  because  of  Dr.  Bell's  efforts,  have 
been  brought  into  the  pleasant  social  ways  of  man- 
kind. 

Dr.  Bell  was  a  young  son  of  an  old  country,  a  self- 
reliant  Scot,  but  so  long  did  he  live  among  us  he 
seems  our  own.  His  life  was  singularly  free  from 
harassments  both  of  temperament  and  circumstances. 
No  allowance  was  ever  needed  for  the  eccentricity  or 
waywardness  of  genius.  His  nature  was  too  fine  to 


ii6  MIDSTREAM 

breed  rivalries  or  tolerate  animosities.  I  have  never 
met  anyone  v^ho  knew  Dr.  Bell  personally  who  did 
not  feel  that  he  had  made  a  lasting  impression  upon 
his  or  her  life;  indeed,  his  nature  was  so  rich  in 
sympathy  that  it  is  difficult  to  speak  of  him  in  terms 
which  will  not  seem  exaggerated. 
/'^  "Life  is  extraordinarily  interesting!"  he  used  to 
say,  especially  when  we  spoke  of  the  telephone. 
"Things  happen,  but  they  are  not  the  things  we 
thought  would  happen.  We  can  see  clearly  enough 
to  the  turn  of  the  road,  but  beyond  that  we  do  not 
know  what  surprises  may  be  in  store  for  us."  He  told 
us  how  Mrs.  Bell,  who  was  not  at  that  time  his  wife 
but  his  pupil,  persuaded  him  to  go  to  the  Centennial 
Exposition  in  Philadelphia  to  exhibit  the  telephone. 
The  time  was  set  for  a  Sunday  afternoon,  but  when 
the  hour  arrived,  it  was  hot,  the  judges  were  tired, 
and  it  looked  as  if  there  would  be  no  demonstration. 
"But" — Dr.  Bell  would  smile  his  refulgent  smile — 
"but  the  unexpected  may  happen  at  Philadelphia  as 
anywhere  else.  It  happened  just  as  I  had  made  up  my 
mind  to  leave  the  Exposition.  At  that  moment  Dom 
Pedro,  the  Emperor  of  Brazil,  appeared,  and  recog- 
nizing me  as  the  man  he  had  talked  to  in  Boston 
about  methods  of  teaching  the  deaf  (he  was  inter- 
ested in  establishing  schools  for  the  deaf  in  Brazil 
and  was  investigating  the  various  methods  of  teach- 
ing them  in  the  United  States),  he  came  towards  me, 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  117 

holding  out  his  hand.  Observing  my  apparatus,  he 
asked  me  what  it  was.  I  told  him  about  it,  and  that  I 
had  expected  to  give  an  exhibition  of  it  that  after- 
noon. 'Well,  why  not!'  the  Emperor  exclaimed,  'I 
should  like  to  hear  it.'  "  A  wire  was  strung  across  the 
room.  Dr.  Bell  took  the  transmitter  and  told  Dom 
Pedro  to  hold  the  receiver  close  to  his  ear.  "My  God, 
it  talks!"  he  cried.  Then  Lord  Kelvin  took  the  re- 
ceiver. "Yes,  it  speaks,"  he  said.  The  judges  took 
turns  in  listening,  and  the  exhibition  lasted  until  ten 
o'clock  that  night.  The  instrument  was  the  centre  of 
interest  during  the  remainder  of  the  Exposition.  The 
commercial  development  of  the  telephone  dated  from 
that  day. 

It  was  in  1892  when  the  invention  was  being  con- 
tested in  the  courts  of  Boston  that  I  first  became 
aware  of  the  telephone.  We  saw  a  great  deal  of  Dr. 
Bell  in  those  days.  We  were  staying  at  Chelsea  with  a 
friend  of  ours,  Mrs.  Pratt,  who  had  assisted  him  in 
some  of  his  investigations  relating  to  the  deaf.  When 
the  session  at  court  was  over  he  would  come  for  us 
or  we  would  go  to  the  Bellevue  Hotel  and  wait  for 
him.  It  was  a  strenuous  time  for  him,  and  we  felt  it 
incumbent  upon  us  to  get  him  to  relax  as  much  as 
possible.  He  was  very  fond  of  the  theatre  and  of 
music,  and  it  was  never  difficult  to  persuade  him  to 
take  us  to  a  play  or  a  concert. 

We  took  many  drives  in  and  around  Boston,  which 


ii8  MIDSTREAM 

is  one  of  the  most  delightfully  situated  of  cities,  in 
the  heart  of  a  beautiful,  accessible  country.  Often  we 
went  to  the  shore,  and  if  we  could  find  an  old  sailor 
to  take  us  out  in  his  boat,  Dr.  Bell  was  the  happiest 
man  alive. 

Naturally,  our  talk  turned  frequently  to  scientific 
matters.  In  his  youth.  Dr.  Bell  was  profoundly  in- 
terested in  the  laying  of  the  Atlantic  cable.  He  told 
me  vividly  how  it  was  laid  after  many  failures  and 
discouragements,  and  how  many  lives  were  lost 
before  it  was  finally  completed,  in  1866.  I  was  twelve 
years  old,  and  that  story  of  heroism  and  the  wonder 
of  the  human  imagination,  as  told  by  Dr.  Bell, 
thrilled  me  as  a  fairy  tale  thrills  other  children.  I 
still  have  an  impression  of  words  fluttering  along 
wires  far,  far  down  under  the  ocean,  East  and  West, 
annihilating  time. 

It  was  Dr.  Bell  who  first  spelled  into  my  hand  the 
name  Charles  Darwin.  "What  did  he  do?"  I  asked. 
"He  wrought  the  miracle  of  the  Nineteenth  Cen- 
tury," replied  Dr.  Bell. 

Then  he  told  me  about  The  Origin  of  Species,  and 
how  it  had  widened  the  horizon  of  human  vision 
and  understanding.  That  achievement  also  became 
an  integral  part  of  my  mental  equipment. 

He  showed  us  the  building  where  the  telephone 
was  born  and  spoke  appreciatively  of  his  assistant, 
Mr.  Thomas  A.  Watson,  without  whom,  he  said,  he 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  119 

doubted  if  the  invention  would  ever  have  been  car- 
ried through.  It  v^as  on  March  10,  1876,  that  Mr. 
Watson,  v^ho  wsls  v^orking  in  another  room,  w^as 
startled  to  hear  Dr.  Bell's  voice  say,  "Mr.  Watson, 
come  here,  I  w^ant  you."  That  was  the  first  audible 
telephone  talk.  It  was  as  casual  and  commonplace  as 
any  of  the  millions  of  conversations  that  go  on  every 
day  over  the  telephone.  I  said  I  wished  the  first 
sentence  transmitted  had  had  more  significance.  Dr. 
Bell  answered,  "Helen,  time  has  shown  that  the 
chief  use  of  the  telephone  is  the  repetition  of  that 
original  message.  The  transmission  of  the  words, 
'Come  here,  I  want  you,'  to  the  millions  of  work- 
aday Watsons  is  the  highest  service  the  telephone 
renders  a  busy  world." 

"Had  you  been  hopeful  of  the  success  of  the  instru- 
ment before  that  day?"  I  asked. 

"Oh,  yes,"  said  Dr.  Bell,  "There  had  been  words 
spoken  prior  to  that  message.  Nevertheless,  I  was 
filled  with  astonishment  when  I  learned  that  Mr. 
Watson  had  heard  my  voice." 

Dr.  Bell  had  no  telephone  in  his  own  study,  and 
he  used  to  say  somewhat  ruefully,  "What  should  be 
done  to  the  man  who  has  destroyed  the  privacy  of 
the  home?"  And  I  have  heard  him  say,  when  people 
spoke  admiringly  of  the  invention,  "Yes,  but  I  doubt 
if  it  will  ever  carry  human  speech  as  far  as  Shake- 
speare and  Homer  have  carried  it." 


MIDSTREAM 

One  evening  when  we  were  waiting  for  a  street 
car  beside  a  telephone  pole,  Dr.  Bell  placed  my  hand 
on  the  weather-smoothed  wood  and  said,  "Feel.  What 
do  the  vibrations  mean  to  you — anything?"  I  had 
never  put  my  hand  on  a  pole  before. 

"Does  it  hum  like  that  all  the  time?" 

"Yes,  all  night.  That  even  singing  never  stops;  for 
it  is  singing  the  story  of  life,  and  life  never  stops." 
He  then  described  how  the  wires  were  strung  and 
insulated,  and  explained  many  other  details  that  I 
suppose  everyone  except  a  blind  girl  would  know 
about,  and  he  said,  "Those  copper  wires  up  there  are 
carrying  the  news  of  birth  and  death,  war  and  finance, 
failure  and  success  from  station  to  station  around  the 
world.  Listen!  I  fancy  I  hear  laughter,  tears,  love's 
vows  broken  and  mended." 

This  reminds  me  of  another  time  when  we  were 
walking  in  the  rain  and  he  asked  me  if  I  had  ever 
felt  a  tree  when  it  was  raining.  He  put  my  hand  on 
the  trunk  of  a  small  oak,  and  I  was  astonished  to  feel 
a  delicate  murmur — a  silvery  whisper,  as  if  the  leaves 
were  telling  each  other  a  lot  of  little  things.  I  have 
often  touched  trees  since  when  raindrops  were  de- 
scending in  little  pearly  columns  from  every  twig 
and  leaf.  They  feel  like  elves  laughing. 

On  these  walks  and  drives  Dr.  BelPs  mind  spread 
out  restfully.  Snatches  of  poetry,  anecdotes,  reminis- 
cences of  Scotland,  descriptions  of  Japan,  which 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND 


121 


he  had  visited  some  years  earlier,  flowed  through 
his  skillful  fingers  into  my  hand.  He  loved  Portia's 
speech  on  the  quality  of  mercy,  and  he  once  told  me 
that  his  favourite  quotation  was  Dryden's  paraphrase 
of  Horace: 

Happy  the  man,  and  happy  he  alone, 
He,  who  can  call  to-day  his  own; 
He  who,  secure  within,  can  say, 
To-morrow,  do  thy  worst,  for  I  have  lived  to-day; 
Be  fair  or  foul  or  rain  or  shine. 
The  joys  I  have  possessed,  in  spite  of  Fate,  are  mine 

Not  heaven  itself  upon  the  past  has  power. 
But  what  has  been,  has  been,  and  I  have  had  my  hour. 

The  period  of  litigation  lasted  a  number  of  years — 
eight,  I  believe.  The  case  was  finally  decided  in  Dr. 
BelFs  favour  by  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United 
States.  When  Dr.  Bell  died  it  was  estimated  that 
there  were  twelve  million  telephones  in  use  in  the 
world,  and  it  has  been  said  that  the  basic  patent  which 
he  received  on  his  twenty-ninth  birthday  was  the  most 
valuable  patent  ever  issued. 

I  saw  Dr.  Bell  soon  after  the  New  York  to  San 
Francisco  telephone  line  was  opened.  Telephone 
lines  had  by  that  time  connected  nearly  all  parts  of 
the  country.  Mr.  Watson  was  in  San  Francisco  and 
Dr.  Bell  was  in  New  York.  The  same  sentence  was 
repeated : 

"Mr.  Watson,  come  here,  I  want  you." 


MIDSTREAM 

''He  heard  me,"  said  Dr.  Bell,  ''but  he  did  not 
come  immediately.  It  is  not  long  now,  however,  be- 
fore men  will  be  able  to  appear  from  across  the  con- 
tinent within  a  few  hours  after  they  are  summoned." 
He  said  that  the  transatlantic  flight  would  some 
time  be  made  in  one  day.  I  thought  of  him  when 
Lindbergh  flew  across  in  thirty-three  and  a  half 
hours. 

Of  course  Dr.  Bell  experienced  the  annoyance  as 
well  as  the  happiness  of  having  done  something  that 
his  fellow  creatures  appreciated.  Wherever  he  went 
he  was  approached  by  people  who  wished  to  shake 
hands  with  the  man  who  made  the  telephone.  Once 
he  spelled  to  me,  "One  would  think  I  had  never  done 
anything  worth  while  but  the  telephone.  That  is  be- 
cause it  is  a  money-making  invention.  It  is  a  pity 
so  many  people  make  money  the  criterion  of  success. 
I  wish  my  experiments  had  resulted  in  enabling  the 
deaf  to  speak  with  less  difficulty.  That  would  have 
made  me  truly  happy." 

Dr.  Bell  was  interested  in  many  other  inventions 
besides  the  telephone — the  gramophone,  the  photo- 
phone,  and  an  induction  balance.  He  invented  a  tele- 
phone probe  which  was  used  to  locate  the  bullet  that 
killed  President  Garfield. 

When  he  wished  to  work  on  one  of  his  theories  or 
inventions  he  would  retire  to  Beinn  Breagh,  Cape 
Breton,  or  to  his  retreat  near  Washington,  or  to  a 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  123 

cocoanut  grove  in  Florida — the  home  of  his  daughter, 
Mrs.  Fairchild.  ''I  must  have  perfect  quiet,"  he 
v^ould  say,  ''but  that  is  no  easy  thing  to  secure  in  this 
busy  world."  Once  he  remarked,  "The  telephone  is 
the  man  Friday's  footprint  on  the  sands  of  life. 
Wherever  we  go,  it  reminds  us  that  no  man  can  live 
wholly  alone." 

When  our  paths  lay  in  different  courses  I  used  to 
write  to  him  now  and  then.  Knowing  how  absorbed 
he  was  in  his  work  I  never  expected  an  answer,  but 
I  never  wrote  without  receiving  one.  I  did  not  ex- 
pect him  to  read  my  books,  but  he  always  did,  and 
wrote  to  me  about  them  in  such  a  way  that  I  knew 
he  considered  me  a  capable  human  being  and  not 
some  sort  of  pitiable  human  ghost  groping  its  way 
through  the  world. 

'Tou  must  not,"  he  wrote  after  he  had  read  The 
W orld  I  Live  /w/'put  me  among  those  who  think  that 
nothing  you  have  to  say  about  affairs  of  the  universe 
would  be  interesting.  I  must  confess  I  should  like  to 
know  what  you  think  of  the  tariff,  the  conservation 
of  our  natural  resources,  or  the  conflicts  which  re- 
volve about  the  name  of  Dreyfus.  I  would  also  like 
to  know  how  you  would  propose  to  reform  the  edu- 
cational system  of  the  world.  I  want  to  see  you  come 
out  of  yourself  and  write  of  the  great  things  outside. 
The  glimpse  you  give  us  into  your  own  world  is  so 
fascinating  and  interesting  that  I  would  like  to  hear 


124  MIDSTREAM 

what  you  have  to  say  of  things  outside."  He  after- 
wards greeted  my  Song  of  the  Stone  Wall  with  de- 
light because  ''it  is  another  achievement  demonstrat- 
ing that  you  are  not  exiled  from  our  world  of  beauty 
and  music."  Is  it  any  wonder  that  I  loved  him? 

It  was  a  part  of  his  joyous  nature  that  he  loved 
to  give  and  receive  surprises.  I  remember  a  letter  I 
had  one  morning  shortly  before  my  teacher  was  mar- 
ried. On  the  outside  was  written  "A  Secret  for  Helen 
Keller"  and  under  that,  "I  don't  want  Miss  Sullivan 
or  Mr.  Macy  to  read  this  note.  Let  someone  else 
read  it  to  Helen."  I  took  the  letter  to  Lenore,  who 
was  staying  with  us  at  the  time,  and  she  read  me  that 
Dr.  Bell  had  sent  a  check  for  me  to  get  my  teacher  a 
wedding  present.  "The  trouble  is,"  he  said,  "I  don't 
know  what  would  please  her  and  I  want  someone 
to  help  me.  Why  not  you?  I  enclose  a  check  payable 
to  your  order  and  would  be  very  much  pleased  if 
you  could  spend  the  money  for  me  on  a  wedding 
present  for  Miss  Sullivan  and  not  tell  her  anything 
about  it  until  you  give  her  the  present  for  me." 

We  went  off  to  Boston  that  very  day  and  ex- 
amined the  beautiful  things  gathered  into  the  shops 
from  all  over  the  world.  Finally  we  selected  a  clock 
which  struck  the  hours  with  a  soft  chime.  I  had  not 
spent  all  the  money.  So  we  went  back  the  next  day, 
and  I  chose  a  silver  coffee  urn.  Dr.  Bell  was  much 
amused  when  I  wrote  him  about  the  two  gifts.  He 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  125 

said  he  could  see  that  I  had  some  of  the  "canny  Scot" 
in  me. 

It  is  strange  what  things  crowd  into  the  mind  as 
one  writes  about  a  beloved  friend.  Little  incidents 
that  I  have  not  thought  of  in  years  come  back  to  me 
now  as  if  they  had  been  written  on  the  pages  of  my 
mind  in  secret  ink.  I  remember  that  first  visit  of  ours 
to  Washington  on  our  way  to  the  Perkins  Institution, 
after  my  teacher  had  been  with  me  a  year,  but  curi- 
ously enough  it  is  not  so  much  Dr.  Bell  who  stands 
out  in  my  mind  as  it  is  President  Cleveland.  I  was  a 
demonstrative,  affectionate  child,  and  my  first 
thought  was  to  kiss  the  President.  Not  understanding 
my  intentions,  or  perhaps  understanding  them  only 
too  well,  he  pushed  me  away.  I  am  ashamed  to  con- 
fess that  I  was  never  able  to  see  much  good  in  Cleve- 
land's administration  after  that. 

Dr.  Bell  was  very  fond  of  animals  and  we  used 
to  go  to  visit  the  "zoo"  together,  not  only  in  Wash- 
ington but  in  other  cities  where  we  were  attending 
meetings  for  the  advancement  of  the  deaf.  Once  when 
I  was  a  little  girl — I  think  it  was  on  my  fourteenth 
birthday — he  gave  me  a  cockatoo  which  I  called 
Jonquil  because  of  his  glorious  yellow  crest.  Jon- 
quil was  a  beauty,  but  he  was  a  menace  armoured 
in  lovely  white  and  gold  feathers.  He  used  to  perch 
on  my  foot  as  I  read,  rocking  back  and  forth  as  I 
turned  the  pages.  Every  now  and  then  he  would  hop 


126  MIDSTREAM 

to  my  shoulder  and  rub  his  head  against  my  ear  and 
face,  sometimes  putting  his  long,  sharp,  hooked  bill 
in  my  mouth,  sending  ripples  of  terror  down  my 
spine.  Then  he  would  dart  off,  screeching  fiendishly, 
to  alight  on  the  back  of  a  dog  or  the  head  of  a  per- 
son. After  a  while  my  father  tried  to  give  him  away, 
but  his  fame  had  spread  so  far  that  no  one  would 
take  him.  Finally,  the  owner  of  a  saloon  in  Tus- 
cumbia  gave  him  shelter.  I  don't  know  what  hap- 
pened to  him  after  the  passage  of  the  eighteenth 
amendment. 

Dr.  Bell  was  always  eager  for  adventure — night  or 
day,  no  matter  what  the  weather  was  like.  "Hoy, 
Ahoy!"  was  his  call  for  his  friends  and  associates, 
and  one  they  were  always  delighted  to  answer. 

I  remember  an  evening  in  Pittsburgh  when  we 
drove  along  the  embankment  of  the  river  to  see  the 
spectacular  display  of  fireworks  when  the  furnaces 
made  their  periodic  runs.  I  shall  never  forget  how 
excited  Dr.  Bell  was  when  the  show  began.  We  were 
chatting  about  the  enormous  industries  which  make 
Pittsburgh  one  of  the  great  cities  of  the  world  when 
Dr.  Bell  jumped  up  exclaiming,  "The  river  is  on 
fire!"  Indeed,  the  whole  world  appeared  to  be  on 
fire.  Out  of  the  big,  red,  gaping  mouths  of  the  fur- 
naces leaped  immense  streams  of  flame  which 
seemed  to  fan  the  very  clouds  into  billows  of  fire. 
Around  the  huge  shaft-necks  of  the  furnaces  they 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  127 

flung  rosy  arms.  As  the  columns  ascended,  the  stars 
blushed  as  if  a  god  had  kissed  them.  The  shoulder 
of  the  moon  turned  pink  as  she  threw  a  scarlet  scarf 
over  her  head.  More  and  more  curtains  of  scarlet, 
crimson,  and  red  gold  unroll,  cloud  mixes  with  cloud, 
fold  tangles  in  fold,  until  the  sky  is  an  undulating 
sea  of  flame.  Miss  Sullivan  and  Dr.  Bell  spell  into 
my  hands,  again  and  again  erasing  their  words, 
searching  their  memories  for  phrases  and  similes  to 
describe  the  scene.  "A  cataract  of  pink  steam!"  one 
would  say,  "it  bubbles  and  drips  through  the  air." 
"There  goes  a  crimson  geyser  licking  up  the  night!" 
said  the  other.  "A  molten  rod  of  hot  iron  ducks  into 
a  black  hole  like  a  rabbit."  "There  are  silvery 
grottoes  and  caves  of  ebony  and  abysses  of  blackness 
beyond  the  river  bank."  "The  belching  furnace  must 
be  part  of  the  central  fires  of  earth."  Every  few 
seconds  there  was  a  flare  of  fiery  cinders  resembling 
"Greek  Fire."  Between  the  red  flames  and  the  black 
wall  of  the  furnace  moved  the  shadowy  forms  of 
men,  the  slaves  of  the  insatiable  beast  which  roared 
into  darkness  and  spread  flamingo  wings  upon  the 
night. 

When  my  teacher  and  I  visited  the  Bells  at  their 
Beinn  Breagh  home  near  Baddeck  the  summer  after 
my  first  year  at  Radcliffe  Dr.  Bell's  leading  scientific 
interest  was  aeronautics.  He  had  built  a  huge  tetra- 
hedral  kite  with  which  he  hoped  to  establish  some 


128  MIDSTREAM 

new  principles  in  the  art  of  flying.  The  kite  never 
achieved  the  success  he  thought  it  would ;  but  we  had 
no  end  of  fun  with  it.  He  appointed  me  his  chief 
adviser,  and  would  never  loose  a  kite  until  I  had 
examined  the  cables  and  imparted  the  information 
that  they  could  stand  the  strain.  Once,  while  I  was 
holding  the  cable,  someone  released  the  kite  from 
its  moorings,  and  I  was  nearly  carried  out  to  sea 
hanging  to  it.  Dr.  Bell  insisted  that  I  should  wear  a 
helmet  and  a  waterproof  bathing  suit,  just  as  he 
did,  so  that  we  might  be  ready  for  any  emergency. 
"You  can  never  know  what  perverse  idea  a  kite  may 
get  into  its  head,"  he  would  spell  to  me  seriously. 
"We  must  always  be  ready  to  outwit  it."  Once  in  a 
while  he  would  pause  to  report,  "We  are  getting  on 
swimmingly."  This  was  not  infrequently  true;  for  a 
recalcitrant  breeze  would  catch  us,  and  we  would 
find  ourselves  swimming,  not  in  the  air,  but  in  the 
"Bras  d'Or."  I  do  not  think  I  ever  saw  Dr.  Bell  dis- 
couraged. He  was  always  ready  to  jest  about  his  ex- 
perimental misfortunes. 

It  was  about  this  time  that  Professor  Langley 
visited  Beinn  Breagh.  Our  talk  was  chiefly  about 
aviation.  My  teacher  and  I  would  accompany  them 
in  an  observation  boat,  and  hour  after  hour  either 
Miss  Sullivan  or  Dr.  Bell  spelled  to  me  what  they 
were  talking  about.  I  was  interested  because  they 
were  though  I  did  not  understand  much  of  what 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  129 

they  discussed.  They  were  terribly  scientific  and 
mathematical.  But  I  have  had  occasion  to  observe 
that  men  v^ho  are  doing  important  things  like  to  talk 
about  their  problems  to  a  sympathetic  listener  even 
though  he  is  quite  ignorant  of  the  subject. 

One  of  the  playthings  at  Beinn  Breagh  was  an  old 
houseboat,  permanently  anchored  on  a  strip  of  shore 
about  a  mile  from  Dr.  Bell's  house.  It  had  one  foot 
in  the  "Bras  d'Or,"  on  the  starboard  side,  and  on 
the  lee  side  it  looked  into  a  fresh  pond.  There  were 
some  beds  and  plenty  of  blankets  in  the  cabin,  and 
food  was  kept  in  the  locker,  so  that  anyone  who 
wished  to  could  sleep  there. 

One  time  there  were  a  number  of  guests  staying 
at  the  house,  and  from  their  talk  one  might  have 
thought  they  were  holding  a  scientific  congress.  Miss 
Sullivan,  Daisy,  Elsie,  and  I  decided  to  spend  the 
night  on  the  boat.  It  was  a  gloriously  clear  summer 
evening,  and  we  were  as  eager  for  adventure  as  young 
dogs  for  the  chase.  We  started  early,  hurrying  down 
the  path  that  led  along  the  shore  to  the  boat,  so  that 
we  could  eat  our  supper  on  deck  at  sunset  while  the 
"Bras  d'Or"  lay  in  golden  splendour.  What  an  ex- 
perience it  was  to  be  part  of  such  an  enchanting 
scene  with  two  beautiful  girls,  who  thoroughly  en- 
joyed the  fun.  Daisy  kept  spelling  to  me  the  ex- 
quisite tints  of  sky  and  water  until  it  was  dark,  and  a 
proiouiid  silence  descended  upon  us — a  silence  only 


I30  MIDSTREAM 

broken  by  the  lapping  of  the  waves,  which  gave  a 
tongue  to  solitude. 

When  the  moon  rose,  trembling  with  excitement, 
we  got  down  into  the  lake  by  means  of  a  rope  ladder. 
There  we  were,  we  four  alone  with  ourselves  and 
perfection  of  water  and  moonlight!  The  air  was 
quite  cold ;  but  the  water  was  deliciously  warm,  and 
our  joy  knew  no  bounds.  Then  what  a  scramble 
we  had  up  the  ladder  to  see  who  could  get  to  her 
blankets  first!  We  were  up  at  dawn.  As  we  came 
out  on  the  deck  a  storm  of  gulls  burst  from  the 
island,  veering  and  wheeling  above  the  lake,  in  whose 
golden  arms  day,  like  a  mermaid,  was  combing  out 
the  bright  strands  of  her  hair.  At  that  hour  there  were 
great  flocks  of  gulls  shaking  the  sleep  out  of  their 
wings  before  diving  into  the  water  for  their  breakfast. 
It  was  a  magnificent  picture — worth  lying  awake  to 
see,  and  we  had  slept  lightly,  so  as  not  to  miss  any- 
thing. Many  years  have  passed  since,  but  that  happy 
night  in  the  old  houseboat  is  as  bright  in  my  re- 
membrance as  the  stars  which  filled  the  sky. 

Another  time  when  we  were  at  the  houseboat.  Dr. 
Bell  and  Professor  Newcomb,  the  astronomer,  came 
down  and  sat  with  us  on  deck.  It  was  one  of  those 
magical  evenings  of  the  north  when  the  moon  weaves 
a  bright  chain  of  light  across  the  waters,  and  the 
''queen  of  propitious  stars"  appears  amid  falling 
dew.  The  bosom  of  the  lake  rose  and  fell  softly,  like 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  131 

the  breast  of  a  sleeping  infant,  and  the  winds  wan- 
dered to  us  with  fragrant  sighs  from  mountain  and 
meadow.  All  the  world  seemed  to  be  left  to  the 
stars  and  to  us. 

It  was  one  of  the  evenings  that  smile  upon  fancy, 
friendship,  and  science,  and  high  hopes.  Professor 
Newcomb  talked  about  eclipses  and  comets,  the 
Leonidas  meteor  showers  which  I  believe  occur  only 
once  in  a  century,  and  astronomical  calculations, 
while  Dr.  Bell  interpreted  all  he  said  to  me.  Once  he 
paused  and  said,  "Helen,  do  you  know  that  when  a 
star  is  shattered  in  the  heavens,  its  light  travels  a 
million  years  or  so  before  it  reaches  our  earth?"  I 
had  never  had  the  sense  of  being  utterly  lost  in  the 
vastitudes  of  the  universe  which  I  experienced  that 
night  as  I  listened  to  the  mysteries  of  sidereal 
phenomena.  I  thought  of  Blanco  White's  lines, 

Who  could  have  thought  that  such  darkness  lay  concealed 
Within  thy  beams,  O  sun?  Or  who  could  find 
That  while  leaf  and  fly  and  insect  stood  revealed, 
To  such  countless  orbs  thou  madest  us  blind  ? 

It  has  ever  been  thus  with  me — that  the  wonder- 
fulness  of  life  and  creation  grows  with  each  day  I 
live. 

The  last  evening  of  my  visit  at  Beinn  Breagh, 
Dr.  Bell  and  I  were  together  on  the  piazza,  while 
Mrs.  Bell  was  showing  some  pictures  of  Cape  Bre- 


i3i  MIDSTREAM 

ton  to  Miss  Sullivan  in  the  library.  Dr.  Bell  was  in 
a  dreamy  mood,  and  spelled  his  thoughts  into  my 
hand,  half  poetry,  half  philosophy.  He  was  weary 
after  a  long  day  of  experiments ;  but  his  mind  would 
not  rest,  or  rather,  it  found  sweet  rest  in  the  poets 
he  had  read  as  a  young  man.  He  recited  favourite 
passages  from  "In  Memoriam,"  'The  Tempest," 
and  "Julius  Caesar,"  and  I  remember  with  what 
earnestness  he  repeated,  "There  is  a  tide  in  the 
affairs  of  men,"  and  ended  by  saying,  "Helen,  I  do 
not  know  if,  as  those  lines  teach,  we  are  masters  of 
our  fate.  I  doubt  it.  The  more  I  look  at  the  world,  the 
more  it  puzzles  me.  We  are  forever  moving  towards 
the  unexpected." 

"When  I  was  a  young  man,"  he  continued,  "I  loved 
music  passionately,  and  I  wanted  to  become  a  musi- 
cian. But  fate  willed  otherwise.  Ill  health  brought 
me  to  America.  Then  I  became  absorbed  in  experi- 
ments with  an  instrument  that  developed  into  the 
telephone,  and  now  here  I  am  giving  my  days  and 
nights  to  aeronautics.  And  all  the  time  you  know 
that  my  chief  interest  is  the  education  of  the  deaf. 
No,  Helen,  I  have  not  been  master  of  my  fate— not 
in  the  sense  of  choosing  my  work."  He  paused  and 
went  on,  "Your  limitations  have  placed  you  before 
the  world  in  an  unusual  way.  You  have  learned  to 
speak,  and  I  believe  you  are  meant  to  break  down 
the  barriers  which  separate  the  deaf  from  mankind. 


Miss  Keller,  Miss  Sullivan  and  Dr.  Bell,  Nova  Scotia,  igoi. 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  133 

There  are  unique  tasks  waiting  for  you,  an  unique 
woman." 

I  told  him  my  teacher  and  I  intended  to  live  in 
some  retreat  ^'from  public  haunt  exempt"  when  I 
graduated  from  college,  and  then  I  hoped  to  write. 

"It  is  not  you,  but  circumstances,  that  will  de- 
termine your  work,"  he  said.  ''We  are  only  instru- 
ments of  the  powers  that  control  the  universe.  Re^ 
member,  Helen,  do  not  confine  yourself  to  any  par- 
ticular kind  of  self-expression.  Write,  speak,  study, 
do  whatever  you  possibly  can.  The  more  you  accom- 
plish, the  more  you  will  help  the  deaf  everywhere." 

After  a  long  pause  he  said,  "It  seems  to  me,  Helen, 
a  day  must  come  when  love,  which  is  more  than 
friendship,  will  knock  at  the  door  of  your  heart  and 
demand  to  be  let  in." 

"What  made  you  think  of  that?"  I  asked. 

"Oh,  I  often  think  of  your  future.  To  me  you  are  a 
sweet,  desirable  young  girl,  and  it  is  natural  to  think 
about  love  and  happiness  when  we  are  young." 

"I  do  think  of  love  sometimes,"  I  admitted;  "but 
it  is  like  a  beautiful  flower  which  I  may  not  touch, 
but  whose  fragrance  makes  the  garden  a  place  of  de- 
light just  the  same." 

He  sat  silent  for  a  minute  or  two,  thought- 
troubled,  I  fancied.  Then  his  dear  fingers  touched 
my  hand  again  like  a  tender  breath,  and  he  said,  "Do 
not  think  that  because  you  cannot  see  or  hear,  you 


134  MIDSTREAM 

are  debarred  from  the  supreme  happiness  of  woman. 
Heredity  is  not  involved  in  your  case,  as  it  is  in  so 
many  others." 

"Oh,  but  I  am  happy,  very  happy!"  I  told  him. 
"I  have  my  teacher  and  my  mother  and  you,  and 
all  kinds  of  interesting  things  to  do.  I  really  don't 
care  a  bit  about  being  married." 

"I  know,"  he  answered,  ''but  life  does  strange 
things  to  us.  You  may  not  always  have  your  mother, 
and  in  the  nature  of  things  Miss  Sullivan  will  marry, 
and  there  may  be  a  barren  stretch  in  your  life  when 
you  will  be  very  lonely." 

"I  can't  imagine  a  man  wanting  to  marry  me,"  I 
said.  "I  should  think  it  would  seem  like  marrying  a 
statue." 

"You  are  very  young,"  he  replied,  patting  my 
hand  tenderly,  "and  it's  natural  that  you  shouldn't 
take  what  I  have  said  seriously  now :  but  I  have  long 
wanted  to  tell  you  how  I  felt  about  your  marrying, 
should  you  ever  wish  to.  If  a  good  man  should  de- 
sire to  make  you  his  wife,  don't  let  anyone  persuade 
you  to  forego  that  happiness  because  of  your  peculiar 
handicap." 

I  was  glad  when  Mrs.  Bell  and  Miss  Sullivan 
joined  us,  and  the  talk  became  less  personal. 

Years  later  Dr.  Bell  referred  to  that  conversation. 
Miss  Sullivan  and  I  had  gone  to  Washington  to  tell 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  135 

him  of  her  intention  to  marry  John  Macy.  He  said 
playfully,  ''I  told  you,  Helen,  she  would  marry.  Are 
you  going  to  take  my  advice  now  and  build  your 
own  nest?" 

"No,"  I  answered,  "I  feel  less  inclined  than  ever 
to  embark  upon  the  great  adventure.  I  have  fully 
made  up  my  mind  that  a  man  and  a  woman  must  be 
equally  equipped  to  weather  successfully  the  vicis- 
situdes of  life.  It  would  be  a  severe  handicap  to  any 
man  to  saddle  upon  him  the  dead  weight  of  my 
infirmities.  I  know  I  have  nothing  to  give  a  man 
that  would  make  up  for  such  an  unnatural  burden." 
And  I  repeated  Elizabeth  Barrett  Browning's  son- 
net: 

What  can  I  give  thee  back,  O  liberal 
And  princely  giver,  who  has  brought  the  gold 
And  purple  of  thine  heart,  unstained,  untold, 
And  laid  them  on  the  outside  of  the  wall 
For  such  as  I  to  take  or  leave  withal, 
In  unexpected  largess?  Am  I  cold. 
Ungrateful,  that  for  these  most  manifold 
High  gifts,  I  render  nothing  back  at  all? 
Not  so ;  not  cold — but  very  poor  instead. 

"You  will  change  you  mind  some  day,  young 
woman,  if  the  right  man  comes  a-wooing."  And  I 
almost  did — but  that  is  another  story. 

The  last  time  I  saw  Dr.  Bell  he  had  just  returned 


136  MIDSTREAM 

from  a  visit  to  Edinburgh.  For  the  first  time  he 
seemed  melancholy.  This  was  in,  I  think,  1920.  He 
said  he  had  found  himself  a  stranger  in  a  strange 
land,  and  that  it  seemed  good  to  get  back  to  America. 
The  War  had  left  its  cruel  scar  upon  his  spirit.  I  felt 
the  lines  of  sorrow  graven  upon  his  noble  features; 
but  I  thought  a  smile  had  fallen  asleep  in  them.  He 
told  us  he  was  going  to  work  on  hydroplanes  the  re- 
mainder of  his  life.  He  prophesied  that  in  less  than 
ten  years  there  would  be  an  air  service  between  New 
York  and  London.  He  said  there  would  be  hangars 
on  the  tops  of  tall  buildings,  and  people  would  use 
their  own  planes  as  they  do  automobiles  now.  He 
thought  freight  could  be  carried  by  air  cheaper  than 
by  rail  or  steamships.  He  also  predicted  that  the 
next  war  would  be  fought  in  the  air,  and  that  sub- 
marines would  be  more  important  than  battleships 
or  cruisers. 

Dr.  Bell  also  foresaw  a  day  when  methods  would 
be  discovered  by  engineers  to  cool  off  the  tropics 
and  bring  the  heated  air  into  cold  lands  which  need 
it.  He  told  me  that  beneath  the  warm  surface  of  the 
tropic  seas  flow  currents  of  icy  cold  water  from  the 
Arctic  and  Antarctic  regions,  and  he  said  that  in 
some  way  these  streams  would  be  brought  up  to  the 
surface,  thus  changing  the  climate  of  hot  countries 
and  rendering  them  pleasanter  to  live  and  work  in. 
His  wonderful  prophecies  set  my  heart  beating  fas- 


MY  OLDEST  FRIEND  137 

ter;  but  little  did  I  dream  that  in  six  years  I  should 
read  of  French  engineers  laying  plans  to  capture 
the  ocean  as  an  ally  against  climates  inimical  to 
man! 

We  felt  very  sad  when  we  said  good-bye  to  him. 
I  had  a  presentiment  that  I  should  not  see  him  again 
in  this  life. 

He  died  at  his  summer  home  on  August  3,  1922, 
He  was  buried  at  sunset  on  the  crest  of  Cape  Beinn 
Breagh  Mountain,  a  spot  chosen  by  himself.  Once 
he  had  pointed  out  that  spot  to  me,  and  quoted 
Browning's  verse: 

''Here  is  the  place,  Helen,  where  I  shall  sleep 
the  last  sleep" — 

Where  meteors  shoot,  clouds  form, 
Lightnings  are  loosened, 
Stars  come  and  go ! 

Sunset  was  chosen  as  the  time  for  burial  because 
at  that  moment  the  sun  enfolds  the  lakes  in  its  arms 
of  gold,  which  is  what  the  name  "Bras  d'Or"  means. 

If  there  were  no  life  beyond  this  earth-life,  some 
people  I  have  known  would  gain  immortality  by  the 
nobility  of  our  memory  of  them.  With  every  friend 
I  love  who  has  been  taken  into  the  brown  bosom  of 
the  earth  a  part  of  me  has  been  buried  there;  but 
their  contribution  of  happiness,  strength,  and  under- 


138  MIDSTREAM 

Standing  to  my  being  remains  to  sustain  me  in  an 
altered  world.  Although  life  has  never  seemed  the 
same  since  we  read  in  the  paper  that  Alexander 
Graham  Bell  was  dead,  yet  the  mist  of  tears  is  re- 
splendent with  the  part  of  himself  that  lives  on  in  me. 


Chapter  IX 


I  CAPITULATE 

After  the  lecture  in  Washington  at  which  Dr.  Bell 
introduced  me  I  spoke  in  a  few  other  places,  includ- 
ing Richmond,  Virginia,  before  I  returned  to  Wrent- 
ham.  My  teacher  and  I  were  tired  and  discouraged, 
and  very  uncertain  about  the  future. 

Our  financial  difficulties  increased.  At  the  time  of 
my  teacher's  marriage,  Mr.  Rogers  had  cut  his  an-  ^  i^oS, 
nuity  in  half.  I  had  thought  that  I  would  be  able  to 
make  enough  with  my  pen  to  supply  the  deficiency, 
but  there  were  too  many  interruptions  and  I  was  an- 
noyed at  having  always  to  write  about  myself.  The 
editors  of  the  magazines  said,  "Do  not  meddle  with 
those  matters  not  related  to  your  personal  experi- 
ence." I  found  myself  utterly  confined  to  one  sub- 
ject— myself,  and  it  was  not  long  before  I  had  ex- 
hausted it. 

Financial  difficulties  have  seemed  nearly  always 
an  integral  part  of  our  lives,  and  from  time  to  time 
many  people  have  tried  to  help  us  extricate  our- 
selves from  them.  I  do  not  know  just  when  Mr. 
Carnegie  began  to  take  an  interest  in  my  affairs,  but 
late  in  1910,  when  he  learned  through  our  friend^ 

13? 


I40  MIDSTREAM 

Lucy  Derby  Fuller,  of  our  difficulties,  he  came  to 
my  aid  with  characteristic  promptness  and  gen- 
erosity. A  few  days  after  she  talked  with  him  he 
wrote  her  that  he  had  arranged  an  annuity  for  me. 

It  had  been  done  without  my  knowledge  or  con- 
sent, and  I  declined  as  gracefully  as  I  could.  I  was 
young  and  proud,  and  still  felt  that  I  could  suc- 
ceed alone.  Mr.  Carnegie  suggested  that  I  give 
the  matter  further  consideration,  and  assured  me  that 
the  annuity  was  mine  whenever  I  wanted  it.  "Mrs. 
Carnegie  and  I  gladly  go  on  probation,"  he  said.  So 
the  matter  rested  for  about  two  years. 

In  the  spring  of  1913,  when  my  teacher  and  I 
were  in  New  York,  we  called  on  the  Carnegies  at 
their  invitation.  I  shall  never  forget  how  kind  they 
were.  They  made  me  feel  that  they  wanted  to  help 
me.  Mrs.  Carnegie  was  very  sweet,  and  I  liked  Mr. 
Carnegie.  Their  daughter,  Margaret,  a  lovely 
young  girl  of  sixteen,  came  into  the  library  while  we 
were  talking.  "Margaret  is  the  philanthropist  here," 
Mr.  Carnegie  said,  as  she  put  her  hand  in  mine.  "She 
is  the  good  fairy  that  whispers  in  my  ear  that  I  must 
make  somebody  happy." 

Over  a  cup  of  tea  wc  conversed  on  many  subjects. 
Mr.  Carnegie  asked  me  if  I  still  refused  his  annuity. 
I  said,  "Yes,  I  haven't  been  beaten  yet."  He  said  he 
understood  my  attitude  and  sympathized  with  it. 
But  he  called  my  attention  to  the  fact  that  fate  had 


I  CAPITULATE  141 

added  my  burden  to  that  of  those  who  were  living 
with  me,  and  that  I  must  think  of  them  as  well  as  of 
myself.  It  had  weighed  heavily  upon  my  heart,  but 
no  one  with  great  power  of  giving  had  ever  re- 
minded me  that  I  was  responsible  for  the  welfare  of 
those  I  loved.  He  told  me  again  that  the  annuity  was 
mine  whenever  I  would  take  it,  and  asked  me  if  it 
was  true  that  I  had  become  a  Socialist. 

When  I  admitted  that  it  was  true  he  found  many 
disparaging  things  to  say  about  Socialists,  and  even 
threatened  to  take  me  across  his  knees  and  spank  me 
if  I  did  not  come  to  my  senses. 

"But  a  great  man  like  you  should  be  consistent,"  I 
urged.  "You  believe  in  the  brotherhood  of  man,  in 
peace  among  nations,  in  education  for  everybody. 
All  those  are  Socialist  beliefs."  I  promised  to  send 
him  my  book.  Out  of  the  Dark,  in  which  I  tell  how  I 
became  a  Socialist. 

He  asked  me  what  I  lectured  about.  I  said  hap- 
piness. "A  good  subject,"  was  his  comment.  "There's 
plenty  of  happiness  in  the  world,  if  people  would 
only  look  for  it."  He  then  asked  me  how  much  the 
people  who  engaged  me  sold  the  tickets  for.  I  told 
him  a  dollar  and  a  dollar  and  a  half.  "Too  much, 
far  too  much,"  he  said,  "you  would  make  more  money 
if  you  charged  fifty  cents — not  more  than  seventy- 
five  cents  as  a  limit." 

Mr.  Carnegie  asked  why  I  didn't  write  more.  I 


142  MIDSTREAM 

told  him  I  did  not  find  writing  easy,  that  I  was  very- 
slow,  and  there  were  few  subjects  editors  thought 
me  capable  of  writing  about.  He  said  he  didn't  think 
writing  was  easy  for  anyone,  except  in  rare  moments 
of  inspiration.  "Labour  must  go  into  anything  that's 
worth  while.  Burns  is  said  to  have  dashed  off  'A 
man's  a  man  for  a'  that'  in  a  jiffy,  but  I  don't  be- 
lieve it.  Anyhow,  years  of  thinking  on  injustice  pre- 
ceded the  miracle.  I  tell  you,  Burns's  life  is  in  that 
poem." 

He  showed  us  a  portrait  of  Gladstone,  whom  he 
admired  tremendously.  "You  know,  the  great  English 
statesman  was  a  Scot."  I  said  I  did  not  know  it.  Mr. 
Carnegie  seemed  surprised  that  I  knew  so  little  about 
Gladstone.  I  said  he  was  the  sort  of  a  man  that  bored 
me,  and  that  I  couldn't  be  enthusiastic  about  him, 
even  when  he  acted  nobly.  "Perhaps  his  being  a 
Scot  has  something  to  do  with  your  admiration,"  I 
remarked.  "May  be,"  he  said.  "Blood  is  thicker  than 
water,  and  it's  much  thicker  in  Scotland  than  any- 
where else.  I  tell  thee,  Scoffer,  he  was  one  of  the 
greatest  men  of  our  age.  He  was  seventy  when  I 
saw  him,  and  Milton's  lines  came  into  my  mind : 

"With  grave  Aspect  he  rose,  and  in  his  rising  seemed 
A  pillar  of  state ;  deep  on  his  front  engraven 
Deliberation  sat,  and  public  care; 
And  princely  counsel  in  his  face  yet  shone, 
Majestic,  though  in  ruin," 


I  CAPITULATE  143 
Mr.  Carnegie  was  also  a  great  admirer  of  Queen 
Victoria.  I  told  him  that  if  he  had  said  to  her  all 
the  flattering  things  he  was  saying  about  her,  she 
would  have  given  him  two  garters — Disraeli's  and 
her  own.  He  gave  a  very  animated  description  of  a 
birthday  party  at  Windsor  when  Victoria  was 
seventy-something.  The  Queen  was  presented  with  a 
silver  ornament  encrusted  with  birds  and  flowers.  I 
cannot  remember  whether  it  was  Mr.  Carnegie's  gift, 
or  not.  Anyway,  Her  Majesty  surprised  everyone  at 
the  table  by  rising  and  thanking  her  friends  very 
charmingly. 

Mr.  Carnegie  was  fond  of  Gray's  "Elegy,"  and 
told  me  he  had  visited  Gray's  tomb.  He  quoted  the 
inscription  on  the  grave  of  the  poet's  mother : 

Dorothy  Gray, 
the  careful,  tender  mother  of  many  children,  one  of 
whom  alone  had  the  misfortune  to  survive  her. 

He  asked  me  if  I  knew  the  words  that  Carlyle  had 
graven  on  his  wife's  tomb.  I  did  not;  but  I  read  them 
from  Mr.  Carnegie's  lips,  "And  he  feels  that  the 
light  of  his  life  has  gone  out."  Mr.  Carnegie  was  a 
walking  anthology  of  verse.  He  constantly  quoted 
Browning,  Shakespeare,  Burns,  Wordsworth,  and 
Walter  Scott.  One  of  his  favourite  quotations,  and 
one  which  he  recited  with  fine  feeling,  was  Portia's 
speech  beginning  "The  Quality  of  mercy  is  not 


144  MIDSTREAM 

Strained."  These  lines  were  often  on  Dr.  Bell's  lips 
also. 

Mr.  Carnegie  was  quite  an  actor,  too.  With  fire  in 
his  eye  he  would  declaim, 

Know  this,  the  man  who  injured  Warwick 
Never  passed  uninjured  yet. 

On  one  occasion — I  think  it  was  the  first  afternoon 
I  was  with  him — he  led  me  around  his  library  and 
study,  and  shoWed  me  the  innumerable  jewel  boxes 
containing  the  thanks  of  towns  and  cities  which  had 
accepted  his  gift  of  a  library.  He  called  my  atten- 
tion to  the  exquisite  workmanship  of  these  boxes ;  one 
of  them,  I  remember,  had  his  name  set  in  jewels.  A 
letter  he  was  especially  proud  of  was  from  King 
Edward,  expressing  appreciation  of  something  Mr. 
Carnegie  had  given,  I  cannot  recall  what  it  was. 

He  told  me  about  walking  through  southern  Eng- 
land when  he  was  a  boy  with  a  knapsack  on  his  back. 
He  enjoyed  the  trip  so  much  that  he  promised  him- 
self that  if  his  ship  ever  came  in  he  would  drive 
a  party  of  his  friends  from  Brighton  to  Inverness. 
The  idea  took  possession  of  him.  It  became  his  castle 
in  Spain,  and  in  the  eighties  he  was  able  to  attain  it. 

He  said  his  idea  of  wealth  when  he  was  a  young 
man  was  fifteen  hundred  dollars  a  year — enough  to 
live  on  and  keep  his  parents  comfortable  in  their  old 
age.  "But  fate  gave  me  thousands  more  than  that. 


I  CAPITULATE  145 

The  fickle  goddess  does  that  sometimes,  and  laughs 
in  her  sleeve." 

I  said,  "Fate  has  been  very  good  to  you,  Mr.  Car- 
negie, in  that  your  dream  came  true  when  you  were 
young  and  full  of  the  joy  of  life." 

"That's  it,"  he  replied  eagerly,  "I'm  the  happiest 
mortal  alive,  only  sometimes  I  can't  believe  it's 
true.  You  see,  I  never  thought  in  my  wildest  flights 
of  fancy  that  the  dream  would  assume  the  princely 
proportions  it  has." 

He  said,  "I  spend  a  good  deal  of  time  in  the  gar- 
den. Out  there  I  feel  as  if  'the  air  had  blossomed  into 
joy.'  Can  you  tell  me  who  said  that?" 

"It  sounds  like  Shelley,"  I  said. 

"Wrong!"  he  triumphed.  "It  was  Robert  Inger- 
soll.  He  said  when  he  saw  the  American  flag  in  a 
foreign  land,  'I  felt  the  air  had  blossomed  into  joy.' 
Who  told  the  southern  Confederacy,  'There  is  not 
air  enough  upon  the  American  continent  to  float  two 
flags?'  " 

"Ingersoll,"  I  shot  back,  without  having  the  faint- 
est idea  who  said  it.  Mr.  Carnegie  patted  me  saying, 
"You've  got  a  head  on  your  shoulders,  I  see." 

Mr.  Andrew  Carnegie  was  an  optimist.  I  thought 
I  was  one  dyed-in-the-wool  until  I  met  him.  "A  pes- 
simist has  a  poisoned  tongue,"  he  declared.  "I  would 
banish  every  one  of  them  to  Siberia  if  I  had  the 
power.  Good  cheer  is  worth  money," 


146  MIDSTREAM 

^'Not  very  much,"  I  teased  him.  'Tou  told  me 
my  lecture  on  happiness  was  worth  only  fifty  cents." 

Some  callers  happened  in  while  we  were  there. 
He  introduced  me  to  one  gentleman  as  "one  of  the 
twelve  men  I  have  made  millionaries,"  and  then 
added,  "Life  is  much  more  interesting  and  worth 
while  since  I  left  money-making  to  these  fellows.  I 
wouldn't  have  had  any  time  for  you  in  the  old  days, 
Helen.  I  have  changed  my  views  about  many  things 
since  I  have  had  time  to  think." 

After  our  call  on  the  Carnegies  my  teacher  and 
I  continued  our  lectures.  Mrs.  Macy  was  far  from 
well.  She  was  still  convalescing  from  a  major  opera- 
tion which  she  had  undergone  in  the  autumn.  But  we 
hoped  we  could  keep  things  going  by  our  own  efforts, 
especially  if  I  could  write  a  few  articles  during  the 
summer. 

We  both  appreciated  Mr.  Carnegie's  desire  to 
assist  me,  and  still  more  the  insight  and  sympathy 
with  which  he  understood  our  motives  in  declining 
his  offer.  Mrs.  Carnegie  was  as  tender  as  he,  and  I 
remember  a  letter  which  I  had  from  her  in  De- 
cember after  our  visit  in  which  she  says  that  she 
hopes  I  will  let  them  prove  their  friendship  for  me. 

The  first  of  April  brought  me  face  to  face  with 
the  necessity  of  surrender.  We  were  in  Maine  filling 
a  lecture  engagement.  When  we  reached  Bath,  the 
weather  turned  suddenly  cold.  The  next  morning  my 


1  CAPITULATE  147 

teacher  awoke  very  ill.  We  were  alone  in  a  strange 
place.  My  helplessness  terrified  me.  With  the  as- 
sistance of  the  manager  of  the  hotel  we  got  on  the 
train  and  went  home.  A  week  later  I  wrote  Mr. 
Carnegie  telling  him  what  had  happened,  and  con- 
fessing my  folly  in  not  letting  him  assist  me.  The  re- 
turn mail  brought  a  warm-hearted  letter  from  him, 
enclosing  a  check  which  I  was  to  get  semi-annually. 
I  will  quote  part  of  it  here : 

The  fates  are  kind  to  us  indeed — I  thought  that  text  of  mine 
would  reach  your  brain  and  penetrate  your  heart.  "There  are  a 
few  great  souls  who  can  rise  to  the  height  of  allowing  others 
to  do  for  them  what  they  would  like  to  do  for  others."  And  so 
you  have  risen.  I  am  happy  indeed — one  likes  to  have  his  words 
of  wisdom  appreciated.  Remember  Mrs.  Carnegie  and  I  are  the 
two  to  be  thankful,  for  it  is  beyond  question  more  blessed  to  give 
than  receive. 

I  cannot  pretend  that  it  was  not  humiliating  to 
surrender,  even  to  such  a  kind  and  gracious  friend. 
Like  Jude,  I  can  say,  "It  was  my  poverty  and  not  my 
will  that  consented  to  be  beaten." 

For  some  time  the  lack  of  money  had  been  only  a 
small  part  of  our  worry.  Mr.  Macy  was  considering 
leaving  us.  He  had  wearied  of  the  struggle.  He  had 
many  reasons  for  wishing  to  go.  I  can  write  about 
that  tense  period  of  suffering  only  in  large  terms. 
There  is  nothing  more  difficult,  I  think,  than  to  re- 
construct situations  which  have  moved  us  deeply. 


148  MIDSTREAM 
Time  invariably  disintegrates  the  substance  of  most 
experiences  and  reduces  them  to  intellectual  abstrac- 
tions. Many  of  the  poignant  details  elude  any  attempt 
to  restate  them.  It  is  not  merely  the  difficulty  of 
recapturing  emotions,  it  is  almost  equally  difficult 
to  define  attitudes,  or  to  describe  their  effects  upon 
others.  They  are,  as  it  were,  in  solution,  or  if  they 
do  crystallize,  they  appear  different  to  the  persons 
concerned.  It  seems  to  me,  it  is  impossible  to  an- 
alyze honestly  the  subtle  motives  of  those  who  have 
influenced  our  lives,  because  we  cannot  complete  the 
creative  process  with  the  freshness  of  the  situation 
clinging  to  it.  Analysis  is  as  destructive  of  emotion  as 
of  the  flower  which  the  botanist  pulls  to  pieces.  As  I 
recall  the  Wrentham  years,  they  appear  to  my  im- 
agination surrounded  by  an  aura  of  feeling.  Words, 
incidents,  acts,  stir  in  my  memory,  awakening  com- 
plicated emotions,  and  many  strings  vibrate  with  joy 
and  pain.  I  shall  not  try  to  resolve  those  experiences 
into  their  elements. 


Chapter  X 

n    '  I- 

ON  ''the  open  road" 

During  the  autumn  of  191 3  we  were  for  the  first 
time  constantly  on  the  road.  It  was  pleasant  to  find 
myself  generally  known,  and  people  glad  to  come  to 
hear  me,  but  it  was  hard  to  accustom  myself  to  the 
strangeness  of  public  life.  At  home  I  had  always  been 
where  I  could  breathe  the  woodland  air.  My  life  had 
been  as  it  were  "between  the  budding  and  the  fall- 
ing leaf,"  and  I  had  felt  along  my  veins  the  thrill  of 
vine  and  blossom.  Winter  and  spring  had  brought  me 
wind-blown  messages  across  marsh,  brook,  and  stone- 
walled field.  I  had  felt 

God's  great  freedom  all  around, 
And  free  life's  song  the  only  sound. 

All  such  peaceful,  expansive  sensations  cannot  be 
enjoyed  in  the  throbbing  whirl  of  a  train,  the  rattle 
of  lurching  taxis,  or  the  confinement  of  hotels  and 
lecture  halls. 

I  have  never  been  able  to  accustom  myself  to  hotel 
life.  The  conventional  atmosphere  wearies  me,  and 
there  is  no  garden  where  I  can  run  out  alone  and 
sense  the  wings  of  glorious  days  passing  by.  At  such 

149 


150  MIDSTREAM 

times  I  am  painfully  aware  of  the  lack  of  personal 
liberty  which,  next  to  idleness,  is  the  hardest  part  of 
being  blind. 

When  one  sees  and  hears,  one  can  watch  the 
pageant  of  life  from  the  city  building  or  the  rushing 
train.  The  features  and  colours  of  one  landscape 
blend  with  those  of  another,  so  that  there  is  a  con- 
tinuity of  things  visible  and  audible.  A  succession  of 
faces,  voices,  noises,  changes  in  the  sky,  carry  on  the 
story  of  life,  and  lessen  the  effect  of  loneliness  and 
fatigue.  But  when  I  go  from  one  place  to  another,  I 
leave  suddenly  the  surroundings  that  have  become 
familiar  to  me  through  touch  and  daily  association 
and  I  cannot  readily  orientate  myself  in  a  strange 
locality.  I  am  conscious  of  the  same  kind  of  remote- 
ness one  senses  out  at  sea,  far  from  all  signs  of  land ; 
and  on  my  first  tours  this  feeling  was  quite  oppres- 
sive. I  missed  the  charm  of  the  roads  I  had  walked 
over — the  ripples  of  the  earth  and  billows  of  grass 
underfoot,  the  paths  trod  by  men  and  horses  and  the 
ruts  made  by  wheels,  the  dust  from  automobiles  and 
other  tangible  signs  of  life.  But  after  a  while  I 
learned  to  enjoy  the  rhythmic  vibration  of  the  train 
as  it  sped  over  long  distances.  In  the  swift,  steady 
motion  my  body  found  rest,  and  my  mind  kept  pace 
with  the  stretch  of  the  horizon  and  the  ever  shifting 
clouds.  I  could  not  tell  which  interested  me  most,  the 
excitement  of  departure  from  a  city,  or  the  rush  over 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD"  151 

great  plains  and  undulating  country,  or  the  arrival  at 
the  next  lecture  with  hope  of  accomplishment  in  my 
heart.  Everyone  seemed  eager  to  show  us  attention, 
and  all  along  the  road  we  were  shown  appreciation 
in  ways  which  touched  and  pleased  us,  but  we  could 
not  take  part  in  the  social  functions  that  were  ar- 
ranged for  us  or  even  meet  many  of  the  people  who 
called.  It  would  have  been  too  great  a  tax  upon 
human  strength. 

Social  functions  have  always  been  trying  for  me. 
I  confess  I  never  feel  quite  at  ease  at  them.  I  know 
that  nearly  everybody  has  heard  of  me,  and  that 
people  want  to  see  me,  just  as  we  all  want  to  see 
places  and  persons  and  objects  we  have  heard  a 
great  deal  about.  I  have  been  meeting  and  talking 
to  strangers  ever  since  I  was  eight  years  old,  but  even 
now  I  can  seldom  think  of  anything  to  say.  The  diffi- 
culty of  presenting  people  to  me  through  the  medium 
of  hand-spelling  sometimes  causes  me  embarrass- 
ment and  confusion.  But  I  feel  certain  that  theSe 
functions  must  have  a  useful  purpose  which  I  can- 
not understand.  Otherwise  we  should  not  tolerate  the 
absurdity  of  shaking  hands  with  hundreds  of  curi- 
ous human  creatures  whom  we  have  never  seen, 
and  will  in  all  probability  never  see  again. 

I  do  not  know  a  more  disturbing  sensation  than 
that  of  being  ceremoniously  ushered  into  the  pres- 
ence of  a  company  of  strangers  who  are  also  celeb- 


152  MIDSTREAM 
rities,  especially  if  you  have  physical  limitations 
which  make  you  dififerent.  As  a  rule,  when  I  am  in- 
troduced to  such  people,  they  are  excessively  con- 
scious of  my  limitations.  When  they  try  to  talk  to  me, 
and  find  that  their  words  have  to  be  spelled  into  my 
hand,  their  tongues  cleave  to  the  roofs  of  their 
mouths  and  they  become  speechless.  And  I  am  quite 
as  uncomfortable  as  they  are.  I  know  that  I  should 
have  clever  things  to  say  which  would  tide  over  the 
embarrassing  moment,  but  I  cannot  remember  the 
bright  casual  remarks  with  which  I  intended  to  grace 
the  occasion. 

After  several  of  these  mortifying  occasions,  I  de- 
cided to  commit  to  memory  every  sprightly  repartee 
I  could  find.  But  alas!  my  proud  intentions  were 
frustrated  by  the  perversity  of  my  memory.  The  bril- 
liant remarks  I  thought  of  were  never  suited  to  the 
occasion.  I  realized  that  to  be  of  any  use  my  bon  mots 
would  have  to  be  mentally  card  catalogued,  and  even 
if  I  went  to  this  trouble,  I  wondered  if  I  could  get 
the  right  one  quickly  enough.  No,  there  certainly 
would  be  horrible  blank  intervals  when  people 
would  stare  and  wait  for  an  answer  that  could  not  be 
found!  I  decided  to  cultivate  the  art  of  silence,  a 
subterfuge  by  which  the  dull  may  achieve  the 
semblance  of  wisdom. 

Even  now  where  people  are  gathered,  I  say  little, 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD*'  153 

beyond  explaining  patiently  that  I  am  not  Annette 
Kellerman,  that  I  do  not  play  the  piano,  and  have 
not  learned  to  sing.  I  assure  them  that  I  know  day  is 
not  night  and  that  it  is  no  more  necessary  to  have 
raised  letters  on  the  keys  of  my  typewriter  than  for 
them  to  have  the  keys  of  their  pianos  lettered.  I  have 
become  quite  expert  in  simulating  interest  in  ab- 
surdities that  are  told  me  about  other  blind  people: 
Putting  on  my  Job-like  expression,  I  tell  them  blind 
people  are  like  other  people  in  the  dark,  that  fire 
burns  them,  and  cold  chills  them,  and  they  like  food 
when  they  are  hungry,  and  drink  when  they  are 
thirsty,  that  some  of  them  like  one  lump  of  sugar 
in  their  tea,  and  others  more. 

We  were  always  amused  at  the  newspaper  accounts 
of  our  appearance  in  a  place.  I  was  hailed  as  a 
princess  and  a  prima  donna  and  a  priestess  of  light. 
I  learned  for  the  first  time  that  I  was  born  blind, 
deaf,  and  dumb,  that  I  had  educated  myself,  that  I 
could  distinguish  colours,  hear  telephone  messages, 
predict  when  it  was  going  to  rain,  that  I  was  never 
sad,  never  discouraged,  never  pessimistic,  that  I  ap- 
plied myself  with  celestial  energy  to  being  happy, 
that  I  could  do  anything  that  anybody  with  all  his 
faculties  could  do.  They  said  this  was  miraculous — 
and  no  wonder.  We  supplied  the  particulars  when 
we  were  asked  for  them ;  but  we  never  knew  what 
became  of  the  facts. 


154  MIDSTREAM 

Our  travels  were  a  queer  jumble  of  dull  and  ex- 
citing days. 

I  recall  an  amusing  ride  we  had  in  the  state  of 
Washington  on  a  sort  of  interurban  car,  which  we 
called  the  "Galloping  Goose"  on  account  of  its 
peculiar  motion.  It  resembled  a  goose  in  other  ways, 
too.  It  stopped  when  there  was  no  reason  for  stop- 
ping; but  we  did  not  mind,  as  it  was  a  lovely  day  in 
spring,  and  we  got  out  and  picked  flowers  by  the 
side  of  the  track. 

Another  time,  when  we  were  criss-crossing  north- 
ern New  York,  it  was  necessary  for  us,  in  order  to 
fill  our  engagement,  to  take  an  early  morning  train 
that  collected  milk.  It  was  a  pleasant  experience.  We 
literally  stopped  at  every  barn  on  the  way.  The  milk 
was  always  waiting  for  us  in  tall,  bright  cans,  and 
cheerful  young  farmers  called  out  greetings  to  the 
trainmen.  The  morning  was  beautiful.  It  was  a  joy 
to  have  the  country  described  to  me.  The  spring 
foliage  was  exquisite,  and  I  could  picture  the  cows 
standing  knee-deep  in  the  luscious  young  grass  which 
I  could  smell.  They  said  the  apple  trees  in  bloom 
were  a  vision  of  loveliness. 

Once  we  happened  to  be  on  the  last  train  going 
through  the  flooded  districts  of  Texas  and  Louisiana. 
I  could  feel  the  water  beating  against  the  coaches, 
and  every  now  and  then  there  was  a  jolt  when  we  hit 
a  floating  log  or  a  dead  cow  or  horse.  We  caught  an 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD"  155 

uprooted  tree  on  the  iron  nose  of  our  locomotive  and 
carried  it  for  quite  a  distance,  which  reminded  me 
of  the  lines  is  "Macbeth" : 

Macbeth  shall  never  vanquish'd  be,  until 
Great  Birnam  wood  to  high  Dunsinane  hill 
Shall  come  against  him. 

and  I  wondered  if  it  was  a  good  or  a  bad  omen.  It 
must  have  been  a  good  one;  for  we  arrived  at  our 
destination  many  hours  late,  but  safe  and  very  thank- 
ful. 

Whenever  it  was  at  all  possible,  I  visited  a  school 
for  the  blind  or  the  deaf  in  the  city  where  I  was 
speaking;  but  our  schedule  was  strenuous  to  begin 
with^  and  I  was  not  equal  to  such  additional  effort. 
Several  times  I  was  treated  most  discourteously  be- 
cause I  did  not  rush  out  of  the  hotel,  just  after  arriv- 
ing, and  shake  hands  with  a  whole  school.  In  one 
city,  at  a  time  when  I  could  scarcely  speak  because  of 
a  cold, the  superintendent  of  the  school  for  the  blind 
asked  me  to  visit  his  institution  and  was  exceedingly 
hurt  when  both  my  teacher  and  my  mother  told  him 
I  was  not  able.  It  grieved  me  that  I  could  not  always 
make  these  visits,  not  only  because  of  the  disappoint- 
ment of  those  who  invited  me,  but  also  because  I  was 
greatly  interested  in  what  was  being  done  for  the 
blind  and  deaf  all  over  the  country. 

Frequently  when  I  am  speaking  in  a  city,  I  re- 


156  MIDSTREAM 

ceive  letters  from  invalids  who  tell  me  they  have 
read  my  books,  and  wish  to  see  me,  but  are  unable  to 
come  to  my  lecture  because  they  are  shut  in — or  shut 
out  from  the  normal  activities  of  life.  Whenever  it 
is  at  all  possible,  I  go  to  see  them  before  or  after 
the  lecture.  Their  brave  patience  stirs  the  depths  of 
my  soul,  and  I  bow  my  head  in  shame  when  I  think 
how  often  I  forget  my  own  blessings  and  grow  im- 
patient with  thwarting  circumstances.  I  carry  away 
with  me  sharp  emotional  pictures  of  thin,  tremulous 
hands  and  suffering  deeply  graven  in  delicate  linea- 
ments, the  cruel  refinements  of  the  sick  room,  of 
gentle  pride  in  dainty  things  made  in  the  intervals  of 
anguish — bead  necklaces,  crocheted  lace,  paper 
flowers,  sketches,  and  kewpie  dolls,  happy  exclama- 
tions mingled  with  moans  of  pain,  the  smell  of  medi- 
cines and  dreadful  pauses  of  adjustment  when  the 
attendant  tries  to  make  some  part  of  the  maimed 
body  more  comfortable. 

New  ideas  kept  crowding  into  my  mind,  and  my 
attitude  changed  as  different  aspects  of  civilization 
were  presented  to  me.  I  had  once  believed  that  we 
were  all  masters  of  our  fate — that  we  could  mould 
our  lives  into  any  form  we  pleased.  I  was  sure  that 
if  we  wished  strongly  enough  for  anything,  we 
could  not  fail  to  win  it.  I  had  overcome  deafness 
and  blindness  sufficiently  to  be  happy,  and  I  sup- 
posed that  anyone  could  come  out  victorious  if  he 


ON  *'THE  OPEN  ROAD"  157 

threw  himself  valiantly  into  life's  struggle.  But  as 
I  went  more  and  more  about  the  country  I  learned 
that  I  had  spoken  with  assurance  on  a  subject  I  knew 
little  about.  I  forgot  that  I  owed  my  success  partly 
to  the  advantages  of  my  birth  and  environment,  and 
largely  to  the  helpfulness  of  others.  I  forgot  that 
whatever  character  I  possessed  was  developed  in  an 
atmosphere  suitable  to  it.  I  was  like  the  princess  who 
lived  in  a  palace  all  composed  of  mirrors,  and  who 
beheld  only  the  reflection  of  her  own  beauty.  So  I 
saw  only  the  reflection  of  my  good  fortune.  Now, 
however,  I  learned  that  the  power  to  rise  in  the 
world  is  not  within  the  reach  of  everyone,  and  that 
opportunity  comes  with  education,  family  connec- 
tions, and  the  influence  of  friends.  I  began  to  realize 
that  although  in  fifty  years  man  had  acquired  more 
tools  than  he  had  made  during  the  thousands  of  years 
that  had  gone  before  he  had  lost  sight  of  his  own 
happiness  and  personal  development.  It  was  terrible 
to  realize  that  the  very  forces  which  were  meant  to 
lift  him  above  hopeless  drudgery  were  taking  posses- 
sion of  him. 

This  realization  came  most  poignantly  when  we 
visited  mining  and  manufacturing  towns  where 
people  were  working  in  an  unwholesome  atmosphere 
to  create  comfort  and  beauty  in  which  they  could 
never  have  a  part.  I  learned  that  to  be  a  worker, 
poor  and  undefended,  is 


158  MIDSTREAM 

To  suffer  woes  which  hope  thinks  infinite; 
To  forgive  wrongs  darker  than  death  or  night; 
To  defy  power,  which  seems  omnipotent ; 
To  love  and  bear;  to  hope  till  hope  creates 
From  its  own  wreck  the  thing  it  contemplates. 

But  as  time  went  on  my  thoughtless  optimism  was 
transmuted  into  that  deeper  faith  which  weighs  the 
ugly  facts  of  the  world,  yet  hopes  for  better  things 
and  keeps  on  working  for  them  even  in  the  face  of 
defeat. 

It  was  in  January,  1914,  that  we  started  on  our 
first  tour  across  the  continent,  and  my  mother  accom- 
panied us,  which  was  a  great  happiness  to  me.  She 
had  always  wanted  to  travel,  and  now  I  could  make 
it  possible  for  her  to  see  our  wonderful  country  from 
coast  to  coast!  The  first  place  we  spoke  in  was 
Ottawa,  Canada.  From  there  we  went  to  Toronto 
and  London,  Ontario,  where  we  were  received  with 
the  beautiful  courtesy  and  friendliness  characteristic 
of  the  Canadian  people.  Then  we  crossed  the  border 
into  Michigan.  We  spoke  in  Minnesota  and  Iowa  and 
in  other  parts  of  the  Middle  West  and  we  had  many 
amusing,  exciting,  and  exasperating  experiences. 

When  we  left  Salt  Lake  City,  it  was  bitter  cold. 
We  wore  fur  coats,  fur-lined  gloves,  and  overshoes, 
and  still  felt  the  cold  keenly.  In  the  middle  of  the 
night  our  train  jumped  the  track,  and  our  car  got 
stuck  fast  in  the  roadbed.  The  violence  of  the  motion 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD*'  159 

nearly  threw  us  out  of  our  berths.  We  were  obliged 
to  dress  as  quickly  as  we  could  in  the  darkness  and 
change  to  an  immigrant  car  with  straw  seats.  We  did 
not  get  to  sleep  again. 

About  daylight  we  dropped  into  Riverside,  the 
heat  became  oppressive,  and  I  began  to  catch  whiffs 
of  ravishing  fragrance.  My  mother  and  my  teacher 
spelled  into  my  hands  as  the  train  sped  past  orange 
and  eucalyptus  groves,  through  the  soft  sage-scented 
brown  hills,  with  snow-capped  mountains  in  the  dis- 
tance. We  raced  through  the  misty  maze  of  pepper 
trees  and  the  blue,  gold,  and  scarlet  of  millions  of 
flowers  until  we  came  at  last  to  Los  Angeles. 

No  sooner  had  we  stepped  out  on  the  platform 
than  we  were  greeted  by  a  great  gathering  of  friends, 
reporters,  and  photographers. 

We  had  looked  forward  to  this  arrival  and  wanted 
to  make  a  pleasant  impression,  but,  weighted  down 
with  our  furs  and  desperately  in  need  of  rest,  we 
knew  that  we  could  not  do  it.  We  tried  to  escape 
to  the  hotel  and  remove  the  stains  of  travel,  but  our 
friends  assured  us  that  they  had  special  cars  waiting 
for  us. 

All  the  ladies  present  were  daintily  dressed  in 
summer  gowns  with  flowers  on  their  hats  and  gay 
sunshades  over  their  heads.  We  were  so  embarrassed 
by  our  appearance  that  we  declined  the  special  auto- 
mobiles, jumped  into  a  taxi,  and  told  the  driver  to 


i6o  MIDSTREAM 

take  us  as  fast  as  he  could  to  the  Alexandria  Hotel. 
But  as  we  turned  the  corner,  something  went  wrong 
with  the  car,  and  he  had  to  stop  for  a  few  minutes 
until  it  was  fixed.  Instantly  reporters  sprang  upon 
the  running  board  and  demanded  an  interview,  and 
the  photographers  caught  up  with  us  and  pointed 
their  cameras  at  us!  Every  effort  was  made  to  delay 
us,  but  we  insisted  on  going  on  to  our  hotel.  Our 
friends'  feelings  were  hurt,  the  newspaper  people 
were  indignant,  our  manager  was  in  a  rage.  Our 
rooms  were  full  of  exquisite  flowers,  beautiful  fruits, 
and  everything  to  add  to  our  comfort  and  pleasure ; 
but  we  were  too  exasperated  and  weary  to  enjoy 
them.  Indeed,  it  was  several  days  before  we  could 
feel  like  human  beings,  and  not  like  wild  creatures 
in  a  gilded  cage. 

My  mother  used  to  say  that  the  years  she  travelled 
with  us  were  the  happiest,  as  well  as  the  most 
arduous,  she  had  ever  known.  She  said  she  lived  a 
lifetime  in  her  first  trip  with  us  across  the  continent. 
Going  to  California  was  an  experience  she  had  never 
dared  hope  for.  Her  greatest  delight  was  crossing 
and  recrossing  San  Francisco  Bay,  especially  at 
night.  She  described  to  me  the  splendour  of  the  sky 
and  the  encircling  hills.  She  amused  herself  by  feed- 
ing the  gulls  which  followed  the  ferry  boat  and 
sometimes  alighted  on  the  rail.  Her  poet's  soul 
sparkled  in  her  words  when  she  told  me  how  the 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD"  i6i 

sun  sent  its  shafts  through  the  Golden  Gate  as  it 
journeyed  westward,  and  how  Mt.  Tamalpais  stood, 
silent  and  majestic,  keeping  eternal  vigil  with  the 
sky,  the  ocean,  and  mortality.  My  mother  simply 
worshipped  the  redwoods — ''nature's  monarchs," 
she  called  them,  and  she  declared  that  they  were 
more  impressive  even  than  the  mountains,  "because 
human  faculties  can  compass  them.  They  are  earth's 
noblest  aristocrats."  This  was  a  bond  between  them. 
For  she  had  the  Adams  pride  in  family,  which  had 
been  greatly  augmented  by  Southern  traditions. 

We  went  often  to  the  Muir  woods  on  that  first 
trip,  and  I  have  visited  them  many  times  since.  How 
shall  I  describe  my  sensations  upon  entering  that 
Temple  of  the  Lord!  Every  time  I  touch  the  red- 
woods I  feel  as  if  the  unrest  and  strife  of  earth  are 
lulled.  I  cease  to  long  and  grieve — I  am  in  the  midst 
of  a  Sabbath  of  repose,  resting  from  human  futilities. 
I  am  in  a  holy  place,  quiet  as  a  heart  full  of  prayer. 
God  seems  to  walk  invisible  through  the  long,  dim 
aisles. 

I  never  met  Mr.  William  Kent,  the  noble  gentle- 
man who  bought  this  grove  of  mighty  redwoods  to 
save  them  from  destruction,  but  some  years  later 
when  I  was  lecturing  in  California  in  behalf  of  the 
blind  I  spoke  at  his  home.  I  had  already  learned 
how  he  had  given  the  trees  to  the  United  States  as  a 
park  and  how  when  Roosevelt  wished  to  name  the 


l62 


MIDSTREAM 


park  Kent's  Woods  he  replied,  "I  suggest  that  as  a 
tribute  to  our  great  naturalist,  John  Muir,  the  park 
be  named  Muir  Woods.  I  am  not  unappreciative  of 
your  kindness,  and  I  thank  you ;  but  I  have  five  stal- 
wsiTt  sons,  and  if  they  cannot  keep  the  name  of  Kent 
alive,  I  am  v^illing  that  it  should  be  forgotten."  I 
have  never  ceased  to  regret  that  he  was  not  at  home 
that  day. 

There  is  something  attractive,  individual,  mem- 
orable, in  nearly  every  city;  but  their  charms,  like 
those  of  w^omen,  are  varied,  and  appeal  to  different 
temperaments.  San  Francisco  bewitches  me.  She  sits 
upon  her  glorious  bay,  a  queen  in  many  aspects,  a 
royal  child  when  she  plays  with  the  gray-winged 
gulls  which  circle  round  her  like  bubbles  rising  from 
the  dark  water.  The  God  who  moulded  the  Canadian 
Rockies  was  an  Old  Testament  Jehovah — a  mighty 
God!  The  God  who  moulded  the  hills  around  San 
Francisco  had  a  gentle  hand.  Their  outlines  are  as 
tender  as  those  of  a  reclining  woman. 

In  the  distance  is  Mt.  Tamalpais,  like  an  old 
Indian  chief  asleep  in  the  doorway  of  his  wigwam 
at  close  of  day,  beneath  him  the  bay  and  the  Golden 
Gate  opening  to  the  Pacific  Ocean.  At  the  left  of 
the  Gate  is  an  old  Spanish  fort.  Yonder  is  Alcatraz 
Island  with  guns  pointing  west.  When  "rosy-fingered 
dawn"  touches  the  eyes  of  the  Indian  chief,  and  they 
open  to  behold  his  beloved,  he  will  see  ships  sailing 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD"  163 

through  the  portals  of  the  Golden  Gate  to  the  breast 
of  their  mistress,  the  Pacific,  ''strong  as  youth,  and  as 
uncontrolled." 

Happy  memories,  like  homing  birds,  flutter  round 
me  as  I  write — breakfast  at  the  Clifif  House,  and 
huge  rocks  sprawling  in  the  blue  waters,  where  the 
sea  lions  play  all  day  long,  warm  sand  dunes  where 
blue  and  yellow  lupins  grow,  groves  of  eucalyptus 
whose  pungent,  red-tinted  leaves  I  loved  to  crush  in 
my  hand.  Standing  on  the  Twin  Peaks,  my  mother 
said,  drawing  me  close  to  her,  "This  is  a  reparation 
for  all  the  sorrow  I  have  ever  known."  We  could  see 
the  city  far  below,  and  Market  Street  stretching 
from  the  Peaks  to  the  Bay,  and  at  the  foot  of  Market 
Street  the  clock  tower,  and  ferry  boats  leaving  every 
few  minutes,  steep  Telegraph  Hill — more  like  a 
ladder  than  a  street,  about  which  many  stories  are 
told  by  sailors  and  searchers  for  gold,  and  the  Mis- 
sion Dolores,  founded  by  Father  Junipero  Serra, 
whom  the  Golden  State  honours  for  his  heroism,  the 
Church  of  St.  Ignatius,  whose  bells  ring  at  seven 
every  morning,  the  great  cross  on  Lone  Mountain, 
which  reminds  us  to  make  the  most  of  life,  since  our 
days  on  earth  are  few. 

Sometimes  the  city  surrounds  herself  with  clouds 
or  wraps  herself  in  gray  vapours,  as  if  to  be  alone. 
Sometimes  the  Twin  Peaks  shake  off  their  ghostly 
garments  and  gaze  at  the  starlit  sky,  while  the  moon 


i64  MIDSTREAM 

turns  her  luminous  face  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  her- 
self visible  from  every  side.  At  sunset  the  Twin 
Peaks  wear  a  many-coloured  crown.  We  have 
climbed  them  at  dawn  when  pillars  of  light,  shaped 
like  a  Japanese  fan,  throw  a  bridge  of  flame  between 
their  summits.  Even  as  we  gaze,  awe-stilled,  they 
pull  up  great  mantles  of  cloud  from  the  sea  and  cover 
their  faces.  The  next  moment  city,  mountains,  ocean, 
are  blotted  out — we  look  into  white  darkness !  I  have 
often  puzzled  my  brain  to  discover  the  difference 
between  black  and  white  darkness.  To  my  physical 
perception  there  is  no  difference,  yet  the  words 
"white  darkness"  bring  to  my  mind  an  image  of 
something  diaphanous  which  extinguishes  the  glare 
of  day,  but  is  not  gloom,  like  black  darkness.  It  sug- 
gests the  sweet  shadows  which  white  pines  cast  upon 
me  when  I  sit  under  them. 

I  usually  know  what  part  of  the  city  I  am  in  by 
the  odours.  There  are  as  many  smells  as  there  are 
philosophies.  I  have  never  had  time  to  gather  and 
classify  my  olfactory  impressions  of  different  cities, 
but  it  would  be  an  interesting  subject.  I  find  it  quite 
natural  to  think  of  places  by  their  characteristic 
smells. 

Fifth  Avenue,  for  example,  has  a  different  odour 
from  any  other  part  of  New  York  or  elsewhere.  In- 
deed, it  is  a  very  odorous  street.  It  may  sound  like  a 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD"  165 

joke  to  say  that  it  has  an  aristocratic  smell;  but  it 
has,  nevertheless.  As  I  walk  along  its  even  pave- 
ments, I  recognize  expensive  perfumes,  powders, 
creams,  choice  flowers,  and  pleasant  exhalations  from 
the  houses.  In  the  residential  section  I  smell  delicate 
food,  silken  draperies,  and  rich  tapestries.Sometimes, 
when  a  door  opens  as  I  pass,  I  know  what  kind  of 
cosmetics  the  occupants  of  the  house  use.  I  know  if 
there  is  an  open  fire,  if  they  burn  wood  or  soft  coal, 
if  they  roast  their  coffee,  if  they  use  candles,  if  the 
house  has  been  shut  up  for  a  long  time,  if  it  has  been 
painted  or  newly  decorated,  and  if  the  cleaners  are  at 
work  in  it.  I  suggest  that  if  the  police  really  wish  to 
know  where  stills  and  "speakeasies"  are  located,  they 
take  me  with  them.  It  would  not  be  a  bad  idea  for 
the  United  States  Government  to  establish  a  bureau 
of  aromatic  specialists. 

I  know  when  I  pass  a  church  and  whether  it  is 
Protestant  or  Catholic.  I  know  when  I  am  in  the 
Italian  quarter  of  a  city  by  the  smells  of  salami, 
garlic,  and  spaghetti.  I  know  when  we  are  near  oil 
wells.  I  used  to  be  able  to  smell  Duluth  and  St.  Louis 
miles  off  by  their  breweries,  and  the  fumes  of  the 
whiskey  stills  of  Peoria,  Illinois,  used  to  wake  me  up 
at  night  if  we  passed  within  smelling  distance  of  it. 

In  small  country  towns  I  smell  grocery  stores, 
rancid  butter,  potatoes,  and  onions.  The  houses  often 
have  a  musty,  damp  aura.  I  can  easily  distinguish 


i66  MIDSTREAM 

Southern  towns  by  the  odours  of  fried  chicken,  grits, 
yams  and  cornbread,  while  in  Northern  towns  the 
predominating  odours  are  of  doughnuts,  corn  beef 
hash,  fishballs,  and  baked  beans.  I  think  I  could 
write  a  book  about  the  rich,  warm,  varied  aromas  of 
California;  but  I  shall  not  start  on  that  subject.  It 
would  take  too  long. 

The  first  tour  was  typical  of  all  our  subsequent 
ones.  In  the  years  that  followed  we  journeyed  up  and 
down  the  immensity  of  America  from  the  storms 
of  the  Atlantic  to  the  calms  of  the  Pacific,  from  the 
Pine  State  to  the  Gulf  States,  along  the  banks  of 
muddy  creeks  or  following  the  Mississippi  until 
it  seemed  to  me  as  if  we  were  tearing  our  way  through 
life  just  like  that  tameless  river.  On  we  went  through 
desolate  morasses  and  swamps  ghostly  with  mossy 
trees,  over  endless  leagues  of  red  clay,  past  wretched 
cabins  of  whites  and  negroes,  then  suddenly  the  glory 
of  Southern  spring  burst  upon  us  with  the  songs  of 
mocking  birds,  the  masses  of  dogwood  blossoms  and 
wild  azaleas,  and  the  lonely  vastnesses  of  Texas. 
Then  back  home  for  a  few  months'  rest,  and  an- 
other long  tour  from  the  settled  East  through  Sand- 
burg's "stormy,  brawny,  shouting  city,"  across  the 
sun-soaked  prairies  of  Nebraska,  through  the  im- 
mense gulches  of  Colorado,  up  the  mountains  of 
Utah,  sparkling  in  the  winter  sunshine,  across  the 


ON  "THE  OPEN  ROAD"  167 

limitless  plains  of  the  Dakotas  and  past  the  thousand 
sparkling  lakes  of  Minnesota.  I  lost  all  sense  of 
permanence,  and  even  now  I  never  feel  really  as 
if  I  were  living  at  home.  Unconsciously  I  am  always 
expecting  to  be  borne  again  over  the  vast  distances 
which  so  powerfully  fascinate  me.  I  am  like  a  young 
spruce  tree  which  is  transplanted  often,  and  keeps 
its  root  in  a  ball,  so  that  it  can  adapt  itself  to  any 
new  place  whither  it  may  be  carried. 

Those  tours  are  a  symbol  to  me  of  the  ceaseless 
travelling  of  my  soul  through  the  uplands  of  thought. 
My  body  is  tethered,  it  is  true,  as  I  follow  the  dark 
trail  from  city  to  city  and  climate  to  climate ;  but  the 
very  act  of  going  satisfies  me  with  the  feeling  that 
my  mind  and  body  go  together.  It  is  a  never-ending 
wonder  for  me  how  my  days  lead  to 

.  .  .  the  start  of  superior  journeys, 

To  see  nothing  anywhere  but  what  you  may  reach  it  and  pass  it, 
To  conceive  no  time  however  distant,  but  what  you  may  reach 

it  and  pass  it, 
To  look  up  and  down  no  road  but  it  stretches 
And  waits  for  you,  however  long  but  it  stretches  and  waits  for 

you, 

To  gather  the  minds  of  men  out  of  their  brains  as  you  encounter 
them,  to  gather  the  love  out  of  their  hearts, 

and 

to  know  the  world  itself  as  a  road,  as  many  roads  to  hope,  as 
roads  for  travelling  souls. 


i68  MIDSTREAM 

That  is  why  Walt  Whitman's  'The  Open  Road"  is 
one  of  my  favourite  long  poems,  it  holds  up  to  me  so 
faithfully  a  mirror  of  my  own  inner  experience. 
However  dreary  or  tiresome  I  may  find  some  of  these 
roads,  there  is  ^Ha  seduction  eternelle  du  chemin/^  I 
look  forward  to  other  journeys  on  a  celestial  high- 
way, where  all  limitations  shall  disappear,  and  my 
voice,  perfect  with  immortality,  shall  ring  earth- 
jvards  with  sweet  might  to  bless ;  and  looking  forward 
is  another  mode  of  happiness. 


Chapter  XI  >  ' 

IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL 

On  our  second  trip  across  the  continent  Miss  Polly 
Thomson,  who  became  my  secretary  in  October, 
1914,  accompanied  us  in  place  of  my  mother.  Her 
position  was,  and  has  been  ever  since,  nominally  that 
of  secretary,  but  as  the  years  passed  she  has  taken 
upon  herself  the  burden  of  house  management  as 
well.  She  has  never  known  the  luxury  of  the  usual 
secretary's  hours  or  well-defined  duties.  A  new  day 
for  her  frequently  begins  an  hour  or  two  after  the 
previous  day  ends.  She  has  to  account  for  all  our  en- 
gagements, lightning  changes  and  caprices,  our  sins, 
commissions,  and  omissions.  Yes,  Polly  Thomson 
manages  it  all.  She  is  our  friend,  kind  and  true,  full  of 
good  nature,  often  tired,  but  always  with  time  to  do 
something  more.  Had  it  not  been  for  her  devotion, 
adaptability,  and  willingness  to  give  up  evrey  indi- 
vidual pleasure  we  should  long  ago  have  found  it 
necessary  to  withdraw  into  complete  isolation.  For 
in  spite  of  our  income  from  Mr.  Carnegie  and  the 
money  we  made  ourselves  our  expenses  were  always 
a  ravenous  wolf  devouring  our  finances. 

After  the  outbreak  of  the  World  War  it  was  im- 

169 


I70  MIDSTREAM 

possible  for  me  to  enjoy  the  lecture  tours  as  I  had 
before.  Not  a  cheerful  message  could  I  give  without 
a  sense  of  tragic  contradiction.  Not  a  thought  could 
I  sing  in  the  joy  of  old  days!  Even  the  deepest 
slumber  could  not  render  me  quite  unconscious  of 
the  rising  v^orld  calamity.  I  used  to  wake  suddenly 
from  a  frightful  dream  of  sweat  and  blood  and 
multitudes  shot,  killed,  and  crazed,  and  go  to  sleep 
only  to  dream  of  it  again.  I  was  often  asked  why  I 
did  not  write  something  new.  How  could  I  write 
with  the  thunder  of  machine  guns  and  the  clamour  of 
hate-filled  armies  deafening  my  soul,  and  the  con- 
flagration of  cities  blinding  my  thoughts?  The  world 
seemed  one  vast  Gethsemane,  and  day  unto  day  and 
night  unto  night  brought  bitter  knowledge  which 
must  needs  become  a  part  of  myself.  I  was  in  a  state 
of  spiritual  destitution  such  as  I  had  not  before 
experienced.  Works  are  the  breath  and  life  of  happi- 
ness, and  what  works  could  I  show  when  cry  upon  cry 
of  destruction  floated  to  me  over  sea  and  land?  Noth- 
ing was  sadder  to  me  during  those  years  of  disaster 
than  the  thousands  of  letters  I  received  from  Europe 
imploring  me  for  help  which  I  could  not  give  while 
my  teacher  and  I  were  with  difficulty  working  our 
way  back  and  forth  across  the  continent  to  earn  our 
daily  bread.  If  I  did  not  reply  to  them  it  was  because 
I  was  utterly  helpless. 

It  was  extremely  hard  for  me  to  keep  my  faith  as  I 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  171 

read  how  the  mass  of  patriotic  hatred  swelled  with 
ever  wider  and  more  barbaric  violence.  Explanations 
without  end  filled  the  pages  under  my  scornful 
fingers,  and  they  all  amounted  to  the  same  frightful 
admission — the  collapse  of  civilization  and  the  be- 
trayal of  the  most  beautiful  religion  ever  preached 
upon  earth. 

I  clung  to  the  hope  that  my  country  would  prove 
itself  a  generous,  friendly  power  amid  the  welter  of 
hostility  and  misery.  I  believed  that  President  Wilson 
possessed  the  nobility  and  steadfastness  required  to 
maintain  his  policy  of  neutrality  and  ^'Christian 
gentleness."  I  determined  to  do  and  say  my  utmost 
to  protest  against  militarism  in  the  United  States. 
My  teacher  and  I  were  both  worn  out;  but  we  felt 
that  we  must  at  least  try  to  carry  a  message  of  good 
will  to  a  stricken  world. 

Accordingly,  during  the  summer  of  1916  we  under- 
took an  anti-preparedness  Chautauqua  tour.  We  were 
booked  for  many  towns  in  Nebraska  and  Kansas  and 
a  few  in  Michigan.  This  tour  was  far  from  successful. 
Most  of  our  audiences  were  indifferent  to  the  ques- 
tion of  peace  and  war.  Fortunately,  the  weather  was 
unusually  cool,  and  we  took  advantage  of  the  early 
morning  hours  to  motor  to  the  next  place  where  we 
had  an  engagement.  It  was  a  restful  experience  to 
ride  past  hamlets  and  towns  buried  in  fields  of  corn 
and  wheat,  or  over  immense  prairies  bright  with 


172  MIDSTREAM 

sunflowers  which  were  as  large  as  little  trees,  with 
big,  rough  leaves  and  heavy-headed  blossoms.  When 
one  saw  them  at  a  distance  they  must  have  seemed 
like  yellow  necklaces  winding  in  and  out  the  bright 
grass  of  the  prairies.  I  loved  the  odour  of  great 
harvests  which  followed  us  mile  after  mile  through 
the  stillness.  But  it  was  not  always  sunshine  and  calm. 
I  remember  terrific  storms  with  metallic  peals  of 
thunder,  warm  splashes  of  rain  and  seas  of  mud 
through  which  our  little  Ford  carried  us  trium- 
phantly to  our  destination. 

We  spoke  sometimes  in  halls  or  in  big,  noisy  tents 
full  of  country  folk,  or  at  a  camp  on  the  edge  of  a 
lake.  Occasionally  our  audience  evinced  genuine 
enthusiasm;  but  I  felt  more  than  ever  that  I  was  not 
fitted  to  address  large  crowds  on  subjects  which 
called  for  a  quick  cross-play  of  questions,  answers, 
debate,  and  repartee. 

The  attitude  of  the  press  was  maddening.  It  seems 
to  me  difficult  to  imagine  anything  more  fatuous  and 
stupid  than  their  comments  on  anything  I  say  touch- 
ing public  affairs.  So  long  as  I  confine  my  activities 
to  social  service  and  the  blind,  they  compliment  me 
extravagantly,  calling  me  the  "archpriestess  of  the 
sightless,"  "wonder  woman,"  and  ''modern  miracle," 
but  when  it  comes  to  a  discussion  of  a  burning  social 
or  political  issue,  especially  if  I  happen  to  be,  as  I 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  173 

SO  often  am,  on  the  unpopular  side,  the  tone  changes 
completely.  They  are  grieved  because  they  imagine 
I  am  in  the  hands  of  unscrupulous  persons  who  take 
advantage  of  my  afflictions  to  make  me  a  mouthpiece 
for  their  own  ideas.  It  has  always  been  natural  for 
me  to  speak  my  mind,  and  the  pent-up  feelings  which 
kept  beating  against  my  heart  at  that  time  demanded 
an  outlet.  I  like  frank  debate,  and  I  do  not  object  to 
harsh  criticism  so  long  as  I  am  treated  like  a  human 
being  with  a  mind  of  her  own. 

The  group  of  which  I  was  a  part  was  doing  all  it 
could  to  keep  America  out  of  the  war.  At  the  same 
time  another  group,  equally  earnest,  was  doing  all  it 
could  to  precipitate  America  into  the  war.  In  this 
group,  the  one  who  at  the  time  seemed  most  impor- 
tant, was  ex-President  Roosevelt. 

I  had  met  President  Roosevelt  in  1903  during  a 
visit  to  my  foster  father,  Mr.  Hitz.  He  sent  me  a 
great  basket  of  flowers  and  expressed  the  wish  that 
I  might  find  it  agreeable  to  call  upon  him  at  the 
White  House.  The  President  was  very  cordial.  He 
asked  Miss  Sullivan  many  questions  about  my  edu- 
cation. Then  he  turned  to  me  and  asked  me  if  there 
was  any  way  in  which  he  could  talk  to  me  himself. 
I  told  him  he  could  learn  the  manual  alphabet  in  a 
few  minutes,  and  at  his  request  showed  him  the 
letters.  He  made  a  few  of  them  with  his  own  hand. 


174  MIDSTREAM 

"F"  bothered  him,  and  he  said  impatiently,  "I'm  too 
clumsy."  Then  Miss  Sullivan  showed  him  how  he 
could  communicate  with  me  by  lip-reading. 

He  asked  me  if  I  thought  he  should  let  young 
Theodore  play  football.  I  was  embarrassed  because 
I  could  not  tell  whether  he  was  joking  or  seriously 
asking  my  opinion.  I  told  him,  with  straight  face, 
that  at  Radcliffe  we  did  not  play  football,  but  that  I 
had  heard  that  learned  Harvard  professors  were 
objecting  to  it  because  it  took  so  much  of  the  boys' 
time  away  from  their  studies.  Then  he  asked  me  if  I 
had  heard  of  Pliny  and  when  I  told  him  I  had  he 
asked  if  I  had  read  his  letter  to  Trajan  in  which  he 
says  that  if  the  Greeks  are  permitted  to  keep  up  their 
athletics  their  minds  will  be  so  occupied  with  them 
that  they  will  not  be  dangerous  to  Rome.  We  talked 
about  Miss  Holt's  work  for  the  blind  in  New  York 
and  what  I  had  been  doing  in  Massachusetts  and  he 
urged  me  to  keep  on  prodding  people  about  their 
responsibilities  to  the  blind.  "There's  nothing  better 
we  can  do  in  the  world  than  to  serve  a  good  purpose." 

My  impression  of  him  then  was  of  an  alert  man, 
poised  as  if  to  spring,  and  besides  alertness  there  was 
a  kind  of  eagerness  to  act  first.  During  those  years 
preceding  America's  entrance  into  the  war  it  seemed 
to  me,  as  it  has  seemed  ever  since,  that  he  was  more 
precipitate  than  wise.  It  was  the  speed  at  which  he 
moved  that  gave  us  the  impression  that  he  was  ac- 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  175 

complishing  mighty  things.  Only  in  aggressiveness 
was  he  strong. 

What  the  group  I  represented  desired  was  fair 
discussion  and  open  debate.  I  wanted  to  have  the 
whole  matter  put  before  the  people  so  they  could 
decide  whether  they  wanted  to  go  into  the  conflict 
or  stay  out.  As  it  was,  they  had  no  choice  in  the 
matter. 

I  do  not  pretend  that  I  know  the  whole  solution  of 
the  world's  problems,  but  I  am  burdened  with  a 
Puritanical  sense  of  obligation  to  set  the  world  to 
rights.  I  feel  responsible  for  many  enterprises  that 
are  not  really  my  business  at  all,  but  many  times  I 
have  kept  silence  on  issues  that  interested  me  deeply 
through  the  fear  that  others  would  be  blamed  for  my 
opinions.  I  have  never  been  willing  to  believe  that 
human  nature  cannot  be  changed ;  but  even  if  it  can- 
not, I  am  sure  it  can  be  curbed  and  led  into  channels 
of  usefulness.  I  believe  that  life,  not  wealth,  is  the 
aim  of  existence — life  including  all  its  attributes  of 
love,  happiness,  and  joyful  labour.  I  believe  war  is 
the  inevitable  fruit  of  our  economic  system,  but  even 
if  I  am  wrong  I  believe  that  truth  can  lose  nothing 
by  agitation  but  may  gain  all. 

I  tried  to  make  my  audiences  see  what  I  saw,  but 
the  people  who  crowded  the  great  tents  were  disap- 
pointed or  indifferent.  They  had  come  to  hear  me  talk 
about  happiness,  and  perhaps  recite  "Nearer,  My 


17^  MIDSTREAM  ' 

God,  to  Thee,  Nearer  to  Thee,"  or  "My  Country, 
'Tis  of  Thee,  Sweet  Land  of  Liberty,"  and  they  did 
not  care  to  have  their  peace  of  mind  disturbed  by 
talk  about  war,  especially  as  the  majority  of  them 
believed  then  that  we  would  not  be  drawn  into  the 
European  maelstrom. 

No  words  can  express  the  frustration  of  those  days. 
And,  indeed,  what  are  words  but  "painted  fire" 
before  realities  that  lift  the  spirit  or  cast  it  down? 
No  real  communication  of  profound  experiences  can 
ever  pass  from  one  to  another  by  words.  Only  those 
who  are  sensitive  to  spiritual  vibrations  can  hear  in 
them  the  fluttering  of  the  soul,  as  a  disturbed  bird 
flutters  in  the  depths  of  a  thicket.  One's  life-story 
cannot  be  told  with  complete  veracity.  A  true  auto- 
biography would  have  to  be  written  in  states  of  mind, 
emotions,  heartbeats,  smiles,  and  tears,  not  in  months 
and  years,  or  physical  events.  Life  is  marked  off  on 
the  soul-chart  by  feelings,  not  by  dates.  Mere  facts 
cannot  present  to  the  reader  an  experience  of  the 
heart  in  all  its  evanescent  hues  and  fluctuations. 

I  am  now  going  to  dig  an  episode  out  of  my 
memory  which  has  contradictory  aspects.  For  that 
reason  I  would  rather  keep  it  locked  up  in  my  own 
heart.  But  when  one  writes  an  autobiography,  one 
seems,  tacitly  at  least,  to  promise  the  reader  that  one 
will  not  conceal  anything  just  because  it  is  unpleas- 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  177 

ant,  and  awakens  regrets  of  the  past.  I  would  not 
have  anyone  think  that  I  have  told  in  this  book  only 
such  things  as  seemed  to  me  likely  to  win  the  appro- 
bation of  the  reader.  I  want  whoever  is  interested  to 
know  that  I  am  a  mere  mortal,  with  a  human  being's 
frailties  and  inconsistencies. 

On  the  second  Chautauqua  tour  I  was  accompanied 
by  Mrs.  Macy  and  a  young  man  who  interpreted  for 
me.  Miss  Thomson  was  on  a  vacation  at  her  home  in 
Scotland.  The  young  man  was  very  much  in  earnest, 
and  eager  to  have  the  people  get  my  message.  He 
returned  to  Wrentham  with  us  in  the  autumn  of  191 6 
after  our  disappointing  and  exhausting  summer.  Our 
homecoming  was  far  from  happy.  Mr.  Macy  was  not 
there  to  greet  us.  Dear  Ian  had  done  everything  he 
could  to  make  the  house  attractive  and  the  garden 
beautiful  with  flowers;  but  there  was  no  cheerfulness 
in  our  hearts,  and  the  flowers  seemed  to  add  to  the 
gloom.  I  telegraphed  my  mother  to  come  to  Wrent- 
ham, and  in  a  few  days  her  presence  sweetened  our 
loneliness. 

But  we  were  scarcely  settled  when  Mrs.  Macy  fell 
ill.  She  had  succumbed  to  fatigue  and  anxiety.  She 
developed  pleurisy  and  a  tenacious  cough,  and  her 
physician  advised  her  to  go  to  Lake  Placid  for  the 
winter.  That  meant  that  our  home  would  be  broken 
up.  Wc  should  have  to  let  Ian  go,  since  wc  could  no 
longer  afford  to  keep  him.  This  hurt  us  more  than 


178  MIDSTREAM 

anything.  For  we  all  loved  Ian.  Mrs.  Macy  had 
taken  him  from  the  fields — a  Lithuanian  peasant  who 
could  not  speak  three  words  of  English — and  trained 
him  to  be  a  cook  and  butler  and  houseman.  He  was 
devoted  to  us,  and  we  felt  when  he  went  that  the 
heart  of  the  Wrentham  place  would  stop  beating. 

I  could  not  work,  I  could  not  think  calmly.  For 
the  first  time  in  my  life  it  seemed  folly  to  be  alive. 
I  had  often  been  asked  what  I  should  do  if  anything 
happened  to  my  teacher.  I  was  now  asking  myself 
the  same  question.  I  saw  more  clearly  than  ever 
before  how  inseparably  our  lives  were  bound  to- 
gether. How  lonely  and  bleak  the  world  would  be 
without  her.  What  could  I  do?  I  could  not  imagine 
myself  going  on  with  my  work  alone.  To  do  anything 
in  my  situation,  it  was  essential  to  have  about  me 
friends  who  cared  deeply  for  the  things  I  did.  My 
experience  of  the  summer  had  brought  home  to  me 
the  fact  that  few  people  were  interested  in  my  aims 
and  aspirations.  Once  more  I  was  overwhelmed  by  a 
sense  of  my  isolation. 

Such  was  the  background  of  the  adventure  I  shall 
relate.  I  was  sitting  alone  in  my  study  one  evening, 
utterly  despondent.  The  young  man  who  was  still 
acting  as  my  secretary  in  the  absence  of  Miss  Thom- 
son, came  in  and  sat  down  beside  me.  For  a  long 
time  he  held  my  hand  in  silence,  then  he  began  talk- 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  179 

ing  to  me  tenderly.  I  was  surprised  that  he  cared  so 
much  about  me.  There  was  sweet  comfort  in  his 
loving  words.  I  listened  all  a-tremble.  He  was  full 
of  plans  for  my  happiness.  He  said  if  I  would  marry 
him,  he  would  always  be  near  to  help  me  in  the 
difficulties  of  life.  He  would  be  there  to  read  to  me, 
look  up  material  for  my  books  and  do  as  much  as  he 
could  of  the  work  my  teacher  had  done  for  me.  , 

His  love  was  a  bright  sun  that  shone  upon  my 
helplessness  and  isolation.  The  sweetness  of  being 
loved  enchanted  me,  and  I  yielded  to  an  imperious 
longing  to  be  a  part  of  a  man's  life.  For  a  brief  space 
I  danced  in  and  out  of  the  gates  of  Heaven,  wrapped 
up  in  a  web  of  bright  imaginings.  Naturally,  I 
wanted  to  tell  my  mother  and  my  teacher  about  the 
wonderful  thing  that  had  happened  to  me;  but  the 
young  man  said,  "Better  wait  a  bit,  we  must  tell  them 
together.  We  must  try  to  realize  what  their  feelings 
will  be.  Certainly,  they  will  disapprove  at  first.  Your 
mother  does  not  like  me,  but  I  shall  win  her  approval 
by  my  devotion  to  you.  Let  us  keep  our  love  secret  a 
little  while.  Your  teacher  is  too  ill  to  be  excited  just 
now,  and  we  must  tell  her  first."  I  had  happy  hours 
with  him.  We  walked  in  the  autumn  splendour  of  the 
woods,  and  he  read  to  me  a  great  deal.  But  the  secrecy 
which  circumstances  appeared  to  impose  upon  us 
made  me  suffer.  The  thought  of  not  sharing  my  hap- 


i8o  MIDSTREAM 

piness  with  my  mother  and  her  who  had  been  all 
things  to  me  for  thirty  years  seemed  abject,  and  little 
by  little  it  destroyed  the  joy  of  being  loved. 

As  we  parted  one  night,  I  told  him  I  had  made  up 
my  mind  definitely  to  tell  my  teacher  everything  the 
next  morning.  But  the  next  morning  Fate  took  mat- 
ters into  her  own  hands  and  tangled  the  web,  as  is 
her  wont.  I  was  dressing,  full  of  the  excitement  of 
what  I  was  going  to  communicate  to  my  loved  ones, 
when  my  mother  entered  my  room  in  great  distress. 
With  a  shaking  hand  she  demanded,  "What  have  you 
been  doing  with  that  creature?  The  papers  are  full 
of  a  dreadful  story  about  you  and  him.  What  does  it 
mean?  Tell  me!"  I  sensed  such  hostility  towards  my 
lover  in  her  manner  and  words  that  in  a  panic  I 
pretended  not  to  know  what  she  was  talking  about. 
"Are  you  engaged  to  him?  Did  you  apply  for  a 
marriage  license?"  Terribly  frightened,  and  not 
knowing  just  what  had  happened,  but  anxious  to 
shield  my  lover,  I  denied  everything.  I  even  lied  to 
Mrs.  Macy,  fearing  the  consequences  that  would 
result  from  the  revelation  coming  to  her  in  this 
shocking  way.  My  mother  ordered  the  young  man 
out  of  the  house  that  very  day.  She  would  not  even 
let  him  speak  to  me,  but  he  wrote  me  a  note  in  braille, 
telling  where  he  would  be,  and  begging  me  to  keep 
him  informed.  I  kept  on  denying  that  I  knew  any- 
thing about  the  story  in  the  papers  until  Mrs.  Macy 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  i8i 

went  to  Lake  Placid  with  Miss  Thomson,  who  had 
returned  from  Scotland,  and  my  mother  took  me 
home  to  Montgomery. 

In  time  she  found  out  how  I  had  deceived  her  and 
everyone  else.  The  memory  of  her  sorrow  burns  me 
to  the  soul.  She  begged  me  not  to  write  Mrs.  Macy 
anything  about  it  until  we  knew  that  she  was  stronger. 
"The  shock  would  kill  her,  I  am  sure,"  she  said.  It 
was  months  later  when  my  teacher  learned  the  truth. 

I  cannot  account  for  my  behaviour.  As  I  look  back 
and  try  to  understand,  I  am  completely  bewildered. 
I  seem  to  have  acted  exactly  opposite  to  my  nature. 
It  can  be  explained  only  in  the  old  way — that  love 
makes  us  blind  and  leaves  the  mind  confused  and 
deprives  it  of  the  use  of  judgment.  I  corresponded 
with  the  young  man  for  several  months ;  but  my  love- 
dream  was  shattered.  It  had  flowered  under  an 
inauspicious  star.  The  unhappiness  I  had  caused  my 
dear  ones  produced  a  state  of  mind  unfavourable  to 
the  continuance  of  my  relations  with  the  young  man. 
The  love  which  had  come  unseen  and  unexpected 
departed  with  tempest  on  its  wings. 

As  time  went  on,  the  young  man  and  I  became 
involved  in  a  net  of  falsehood  and  misunderstanding. 
I  am  sure  that  if  Mrs.  Macy  had  been  there,  she 
would  have  understood,  and  sympathized  with  us 
both.  The  most  cruel  sorrows  in  life  are  not  its  losses 
and  misfortunes,  but  its  frustrations  and  betrayals. 


i82  MIDSTREAM 

The  brief  love  will  remain  in  my  life,  a  little 
island  of  joy  surrounded  by  dark  waters.  I  am  glad 
that  I  have  had  the  experience  of  being  loved  and 
desired.  The  fault  was  not  in  the  loving,  but  in  the 
circumstances.  A  lovely  thing  tried  to  express  itself; 
but  conditions  were  not  right  or  adequate,  and  it 
never  blossomed.  Yet  the  failure,  perhaps,  only  serves 
to  set  off  the  beauty  of  the  intention.  I  see  it  all  now 
with  a  heart  that  has  grown  sad  in  growing  wiser. 

All  that  winter  was  a  time  of  anxiety  and  suffering. 
My  teacher's  health  did  not  improve  and  she  was 
very  unhappy  in  the  bleak  climate  of  Lake  Placid. 
Finally,  about  the  beginning  of  December,  she  sailed 
for  Porto  Rico,  accompanied  by  Polly  Thomson. 
She  remained  there  until  the  following  April,  and 
almost  every  week  brought  me  a  letter  with  her  own 
hand  in  braille,  full  of  delight  over  the  wonderful 
climate  of  Porto  Rico.  She  described  "the  loveliest 
sky  in  the  world,"  the  palms  and  cocoanuts,  tree-like 
ferns,  lilies,  poinsettias,  and  many  beautiful  flow- 
ers she  had  never  seen  before.  She  declared  that  if 
she  got  well  anywhere,  it  would  be  on  that  enchanted 
island.  But  she  did  not  really  recover  until  the  fall 
after  she  returned  to  Wrentham;  she  could  not  lec- 
ture again  for  more  than  a  year. 

I  had  often  been  urged  to  write  a  book  about  the 
blind,  and  I  was  eager  to  do  it  now,  not  only  because 
I  thought  it  might  help  their  cause  but  because  I 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  183 

wanted  something  to  take  my  mind  away  from  war 
questions.  I  might  have  done  it  that  winter,  but  I 
could  not  collect  material  for  such  a  book  without  my 
teacher's  help  and  I  could  not  afford  expert  assist- 
ance. I  dwell  so  much  on  the  inadequacy  of  my 
income,  not  because  I  see  in  it  a  reason  for  complaint, 
but  because  many  people  have  criticized  my  teacher 
and  me  for  the  things  we  have  left  undone.  If  they 
only  knew  how  many  of  our  years  have  been  sacrificed 
to  practical  and  impractical  ways  of  earning  a  living! 

In  various  ways  our  small  fortune  had  become  so 
depleted  that  we  were  obliged  to  sell  our  home  in 
Wrentham.  We  had  been  one  with  the  house,  one 
with  the  sweetness  of  the  town.  Our  joys  and  affec- 
tions had  peopled  the  rooms  and  many  objects  had 
woven  themselves  by  long  companionship  into  my 
daily  life  there.  There  was  a  friendly  sense  about 
the  long,  handsome  oak  table  where  I  wrote  and 
spread  out  my  papers  with  comfort,  the  spacious 
bookcases,  the  big  study  windows  where  my  plants 
had  welcomed  me  with  blossoms  and  the  sofa  where 
I  had  sat  by  a  cheery  fire.  How  many  of  those  fires 
had  shone  upon  faces  I  loved,  had  warmed  hands 
whose  clasp  I  shall  feel  no  more,  and  gladdened 
hearts  that  are  now  still!  The  very  sorrows  we  had 
endured  there  had  endeared  that  home  all  the  more 
to  us. 

The  house  seemed  to  have  a  personality^  and  to 


i84  MIDSTREAM 

mourn  our  going  away.  Each  room  spoke  to  us  in 
unheard  but  tender  accents.  I  do  not  think  of  a  house 
merely  as  wood,  stone,  and  cement,  but  as  a  spirit 
which  shelters  or  casts  out,  blesses  or  condemns.  It 
was  a  sweet  old  farmhouse  that  had  enfolded  me,  and 
which  had  stored  away  in  its  soul  the  laughter  of 
children  and  the  singing  of  birds.  It  was  a  home 
where  rural  peace  had  smiled  upon  my  work.  There 
I  watched  the  ploughing  and  harrowing  of  the 
fields,  and  the  sowing  of  seed,  waited  for  new  flowers 
and  vegetables  in  the  garden.  When  we  left  the  sun 
was  shining,  and  the  magic  of  June  was  everywhere, 
except  in  our  hearts.  My  feet  almost  refused  to  move 
as  we  stepped  out  of  a  house  where  I  had  thrilled  to 
the  beauty  of  so  many  golden  seasons!  Oh,  those 
Mays  with  dainty  marsh-marigolds  and  a  sea  of 
violets,  pink  and  white  drifts  of  apple  blossoms! 
Oh,  the  Junes  with  the  riot  of  ramblers  up  the  walls, 
the  red  clover  and  white  Queen  Anne's  lace,  purple 
ironweed,  and  all  about  the  divine  aroma  of  pine 
needles!  Oh,  the  breezes  with  the  coolness  of  deep 
woods  and  rippling  streams!  All  my  tree-friends 
were  there,  too — the  slender  white  pines  by  my 
study,  the  big,  hospitable  apple  trees,  one  with  a 
seat  where  I  had  sat  wrapped  in  bright  dreams,  the 
noble  elms  casting  shadows  far  over  the  fields  and 
the  spruces  nodding  to  me.  Nowhere  was  there  a 
suggestion  of  world  wars,  falling  empires,  and  bitter 


IN  THE  WHIRLPOOL  185 

disillusionment,  but  a  sense  of  permanence  and  charm 
which  I  have  not  experienced  so  fully  since.  Thirteen 
years  we  had  lived  there.  It  was  not  a  long  period 
measured  by  years  and  much  of  the  time  we  had 
perforce  been  away,  yet  it  was  a  lifetime  measured 
in  seasons  of  the  heart. 

The  one  thought  which  cheered  us  as  we  drove 
away  that  sad  morning  was  that  the  house  we  had 
loved  so  well  would  be  good  to  others.  It  is  now  a 
rest  home  for  the  girls  working  at  Jordan  Marsh 
department  store,  Boston;  but  it  is  so  endeared  to  me 
by  all  intimate  joys  and  sorrows  that  no  matter  who 
lives  in  it  and  no  matter  where  I  go  I  shall  always 
think  of  it  as  home. 


Chapter  XII 

I   MAKE   BELIEVE   I   AM  AN 
ACTRESS 

After  wandering  about  the  country  for  a  time  we 
decided  to  make  our  home  in  Forest  Hills,  a  pretty 
suburb  of  New  York  City.  We  bought  a  small,  odd- 
looking  house  which  has  so  many  peaks  and  angles 
that  we  call  it  our  Castle  on  the  Marsh.  "We"  were 
Mrs.  Macy,  Polly  Thomson,  myself  and  Sieglinde. 

We  were  glad  to  be  out  of  the  noise  and  rush  and 
confusion  of  public  life.  We  planted  trees  and  vines 
in  the  garden.  I  had  a  little  study  upstairs  open  to 
the  four  winds  of  heaven.  I  began  the  study  of 
Italian  because  I  wanted  to  read  Dante  and  Petrarch 
in  their  own  tongue,  and  we  hoped  to  live  quietly 
with  our  books  and  our  dreams.  But  we  had  hardly 
settled  down  before  we  had  a  letter  from  Dr.  Francis 
Trevelyan  Miller  proposing  that  a  motion  picture 
be  made  of  the  story  of  my  life.  The  idea  pleased  me 
very  much  because  I  thought  that  through  the  film 
we  might  show  the  public  in  a  forceful  manner  how 
I  had  been  saved  from  a  cruel  fate,  and  how  the 
distracted,  war-tortured  world  we  were  then  living 
in  could  be  saved  from  strife  and  social  injustice — 

1 86 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  187 
spiritual  deafness  and  blindness.  That  is  why  the 
picture  was  called  ''Deliverance." 

It  seems  strange  to  me  now  that  I  ever  had  the 
conceit  to  go  the  long,  long  way  to  Hollywood,  re- 
view my  life  on  the  screen,  and  expect  the  public  not 
to  fall  asleep  over  it.  I  was  not  an  exciting  subject 
for  a  motion  picture.  I  was  awkward  and  big,  while 
most  of  the  actresses  I  met  were  graceful  and  sylph- 
like. I  could  not,  like  Ariel,  ''do  my  spiriting  gently." 
I  could  not  glide  like  a  nymph  in  cloudlike  robes.  I 
had  no  magic  wand  to  conjure  up  tears  and  laugh- 
ter. But  I  enjoyed  being  in  Hollywood,  and  my  only 
regret  now  is  that  the  picture  proved  a  financial  loss 
to  all  who  were  interested  in  it  and  that  my  shadow- 
self  is  still  an  elephant  upon  the  shoulders  of  the 
producer. 

Life  in  the  vicinity  of  Hollywood  is  very  exciting. 
You  never  know  what  you  may  see  when  you  venture 
beyond  your  doorsill.  Threading  your  way  between 
the  geraniums  which  grow  on  the  curb,  and  spread 
out  under  your  feet  like  a  Persian  rug,  you  behold 
a  charge  of  cavalry  or  an  ice  wagon  overturned  in 
the  middle  of  a  street,  or  a  shack  in  flames  on  the 
hillside,  or  an  automobile  plunging  down  a  clifif. 
When  everything  was  new  to  us,  we  motored  out  to 
the  desert.  There  was  nothing  to  see  but  glare  and 
sand  mounds,  with  here  and  there  a  cactus  or  a 
greasewood  bush.  At  a  bend  in  the  road  someone 


i88  MIDSTREAM 

exclaimed,  "Look!  there's  an  Indian — a  real  wild 
Indian."  We  got  out  of  the  car  and  reconnoitred. 
The  Indian  seemed  to  be  the  only  moving  object  in 
the  universe.  The  men  in  the  party  approached  him 
v^ith  the  idea  of  asking  him  to  let  me  touch  his 
headdress,  which  was  a  gorgeous  affair  of  painted 
eagle  feathers.  When  we  got  near  enough,  we  began 
to  gesticulate  to  tell  him  in  pantomime  what  we 
wanted.  In  perfectly  good  English  the  Indian  said, 
"Sure,  the  lady  can  feel  me  as  much  as  she  likes." 
He  was  a  motion  picture  actor  waiting  for  his 
camera  men. 

Every  morning  at  sunrise  Miss  Thomson  and  I 
went  for  a  ride  through  the  dewy  stillness.  Nothing 
refreshed  me  as  did  the  cool  breeze,  scented  with 
sage,  thyme,  and  eucalyptus.  Some  of  the  happiest 
hours  of  my  life  were  spent  on  the  trails  of  Beverly 
Hills.  I  loved  Peggy,  the  horse  I  rode,  and  I  think 
he  liked  me ;  for  she  seldom  lost  her  temper,  although 
I  know  she  must  have  found  my  riding  very  clumsy 
indeed.  I  am  sure  things  fell  out  very  much  to  her 
liking  one  day  when  a  girth  broke,  and  she  slipped 
the  saddle  and  galloped  away  into  the  hills  for  a 
holiday,  leaving  me  in  the  middle  of  a  strawberry 
patch.  I  should  not  have  minded  if  the  farmer  had 
not  already  finished  picking  all  the  ripe  strawberries. 

We  set  out  to  make  a  simple  picture  with  The 
Story  of  My  Life  as  a  background.  We  worked  at 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  189 

the  Brunton  studio  under  the  direction  of  Mr.  George 
Foster  Piatt,  who  was  most  patient  with  me.  He 
devised  a  signal  system  of  taps  that  I  could  follow 
and  allowed  plenty  of  time  for  Polly  Thomson  to 
interpret  his  direction  to  me.  After  general  directions 
had  been  spelled  into  my  hand,  I  was  supposed  to  go 
through  the  action  with  the  help  of  signal  taps.  "Tap, 
tap,  tap" — walk  toward  the  window  on  your  right. 
'Tap,  tap,  tap" — hold  up  your  hands  to  the  sun  (a 
blaze  of  heat  from  the  big  lamps).  "Tap,  tap,  tap" — 
discover  the  bird's  cage;  (I  had  already  discovered 
the  cage  five  times).  "Tap,  tap,  tap" — express  sur- 
prise, feel  for  the  bird,  express  pleasure.  "Tap,  tap, 
tap" — be  natural.  In  my  hand  impatiently:  "There's 
nothing  to  be  afraid  of;  it  isn't  a  lion  in  the  cage — 
it's  a  canary.  Repeat." 

I  was  never  quite  at  my  ease  when  I  posed.  It  was 
hard  to  be  natural  before  the  camera,  and  not  to  see 
it  at  that!  I  had  little  skill  to  throw  myself  into  the 
spirit  of  the  scene.  There  I  sat  or  stood  for  a  picture, 
growing  hotter  and  hotter,  my  hands  more  and  more 
moist  as  the  light  poured  upon  me. My  embarrassment 
caused  my  brow  and  nose  to  shine  unartistically. 
Instead  of  putting  on  a  winning  smile,  I  often  dis- 
charged all  life  and  intelligence  from  my  counten- 
ance, and  gazed  stiffly  into  vacancy.  When  I  became 
too  absorbed  in  a  difficult  detail,  like  writing  in  large 
letters  spited  to  the  screen,  I  unconsciously  frowned, 


igo  MIDSTREAM 

and  I  believe  that  only  the  good  nature  of  those  about 
me  saved  my  reputation  for  amiability.  Besides,  we 
had  to  go  to  the  studio  twice  a  day,  and  that  meant 
"making  up"  and  "unmaking"  each  time. 

At  first  when  I  was  told  what  effect  they  were 
trying  for  in  a  scene,  I  used  to  ask  myself  how  I 
should  do  it  if  I  were  alone  in  my  room,  or  with 
friends  in  a  familiar  place;  but  the  signal  "Be 
natural"  came  emphatically  after  one  of  my  best 
efforts.  I  learned  that  thinking  was  of  no  use  in  a 
motion  picture — at  least  not  my  thinking.  After  a 
while,  if  I  caught  myself  thinking  about  what  I 
was  doing,  I  would  pull  myself  up  sharp,  and  con- 
centrate on  the  signals  that  came  to  me  from  the 
director. 

Of  course  I  could  not  act  in  the  early  scenes.  A 
child  named  Florence  Roberts,  whose  stage  name  now 
is  Sylvia  Dawn,  impersonated  me  as  a  little  girl. 
With  perfect  eyes  and  ears  she  acted  this  part  as- 
tonishingly well,  and  besides  the  affection  I  felt  for 
her,  I  had  a  certain  tenderness  for  the  small  me  that 
she  presented  so  realistically.  There  was  also  Ann 
Mason,  the  sweet,  laughter-loving,  daintily  dressed 
young  girl  who  was  myself  in  the  college  scenes  of 
the  picture.  I  was  amused  whenever  she  tried  to 
shut  her  eyes  so  as  to  look  blind,  and  they  would  pop 
open,  so  interested  was  she  in  the  scene.  I  also  loved 
the  way  she  dreamed  my  dreams  of  beauty,  and  the 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  191 

delightful  picture  she  made  side  by  side  with  Ulysses 
and  the  Greek  divinities  I  had  read  about  in  my 
books. 

Another  difficulty  arose  when  it  came  to  presenting 
my  friends.  I  was  anxious  to  have  as  many  of  them 
as  possible  appear  in  the  picture,  but  many  of  them 
had  died— Henry  Rogers,  Mark  Twain,  Phillips 
Brooks,  Oliver  Wendell  Holmes,  Edward  Everett 
Hale — and  those  who  were  living,  had,  like  myself, 
grown  older. 

I  wrote  Dr.  Bell,  who  was  then  in  Nova  Scotia. 
He  sent  me  a  beautiful  letter  which  runs  in  part  as 
follows : 

Your  letter  has  touched  me  deeply.  It  brings  back  recollec- 
tions of  the  little  girl  I  met  in  Washington  so  long  ago,  and 
you  are  still  that  little  girl  to  me.  I  can  only  say  that  anything 
you  want  me  to  do  I  will  do  for  your  sake,  but  I  can't  go  down 
to  the  States  before  you  go  to  California,  and  we  will  have  to 
wait  until  you  come  back. 

You  must  remember  that  when  I  met  you  first  I  wasn't 
seventy-one  years  old  and  didn't  have  white  hair,  and  you  were 
only  a  little  girl  of  seven,  so  it  is  obvious  that  any  historical 
picture  will  have  to  be  made  with  substitutes  for  both  of  us. 
You  will  have  to  find  someone  with  dark  hair  to  impersonate 
the  Alexander  Graham  Bell  of  your  childhood,  and  then  per- 
haps your  appearance  with  me  in  a  later  scene  when  we  both 
are  as  we  are  now  may  be  interesting  by  contrast. 

It  occurred  to  me  it  might  be  attractive  to  present 
my  friends  in  a  somewhat  symbolic  way.  In  Gibbon's 
Autobiography  there  is  a  memorable  passage  in 


192  MIDSTREAM 

which  he  speaks  of  a  walk  he  took  under  the  acacias 
outside  his  study  at  Lausanne  when  he  had  com- 
pleted his  twenty  years'  work  on  The  Decline  and 
Fall.  It  seemed  to  me  that  the  acacia  walk  would 
be  an  effective  symbol  for  my  picture.  What  could  be 
more  appropriate  than  a  berceau  of  acacias  to  sug- 
gest my  life-journey  through  shadow  and  silence? 
What  could  be  more  dramatic  than  to  meet  my 
friends  and  have  them  walk  with  me  in  that  secluded 
path,  with  glimpses  of  lake,  mountain,  and  river 
beyond?  The  idea  was  never  carried  out.  This  was  a 
deep  disappointment  to  me  because  I  had  desired  to 
make  my  picture  a  grateful  testimony  to  the  gracious 
deeds  and  the  understanding  sympathy  which  had 
made  the  story  of  my  life. 

But  each  one  of  us,  and  I  assure  you  there  was  an 
army  of  us,  had  his  own  idea  of  the  way  the  picture 
should  be  made.  The  substitute  for  the  acacia  walk 
struck  me  as  most  grotesque  and  ludicrous.  It  was  a 
great  banquet  bristling  with  formality  where  all  my 
friends,  both  living  and  dead,  were  assembled.  There 
was  my  dear  father  who  had  been  on  the  Heaven  side 
of  the  Great  River  for  twenty  years.  There  were  Dr. 
Hale,  Bishop  Brooks,  Dr.  Oliver  Wendell  Holmes, 
Dr.  Bell,  Mrs.  William  Thaw,  Henry  Rogers;  and 
Joseph  Jefferson  looking  much  more  alive  than  when 
he  came  down  the  mountain  from  his  twenty  years 
sleep. 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  193 

I  felt  as  if  I  had  died  without  knowing  it,  and 
passed  on  to  the  other  world,  and  here  were  my 
friends  who  had  gone  before  coming  to  greet  me. 
But  when  I  grasped  their  hands,  they  seemed  more 
substantial  than  I  had  imagined  spirit-hands  would 
be.  Moreover,  they  did  not  resemble  the  hands  of 
the  friends  they  were  impersonating,  and  the  con- 
versation of  these  resurrected  friends  did  not  have 
the  flavour  of  the  talk  to  which  I  had  been  accus- 
tomed. It  gave  me  a  little  shock  every  time  one  of 
them  interjected  a  remark  into  the  conversation,  and 
when  Mark  Twain  made  a  witty  or  complimentary 
speech,  I  did  not  know  whether  to  laugh  or  cry.  The 
climax  of  incongruities  came  when,  after  all  the 
music,  banqueting,  and  talk,  the  scenario  required 
that  I  say  words  to  this  effect :  "Eighty  thousand  blind 
people  are  unhappy  and  unhelped,  and  in  the  present 
state  of  society  it  is  impossible  to  give  them  the 
opportunities  they  should  have.  .  .  .  Millions  of 
human  beings  live  and  die  without  knowing  the  joy 
of  living.  .  .  .  Let  us  resolve  now  and  here  to  build 
a  saner,  kindlier  world  for  everybody." 

In  another  scene  I  danced  for  the  camera,  I  poured 
tea  for  the  callers  and  after  the  last  guest  was  sped, 
there  came  the  "tap,  tap,  tap"  from  the  director: 
"Lift  up  your  hands  and  let  them  fall,  express  relief 
that  the  last  bore  has  left."  There  was  a  bedroom 
scene  in  which  I  was  directed  to  show  the  curious 


194  MIDSTREAM 

public  that  I  could  dress  and  undress  myself  alone 
and  that  I  closed  my  eyes  when  I  went  to  sleep. 
Charlie  Chaplin  proposed  to  break  in  and  wake  the 
^'sleeping  beauty,"  and  I  wish  now  that  we  had  let 
him  do  it. 

Our  visits  with  Charlie  Chaplin  were  among  the 
most  delightful  experiences  we  had  in  California. 
He  invited  me  to  his  studio  to  see  "A  Dog's  Life," 
and  "Shoulder  Arms,"  and  when  I  said  I  would  come 
he  seemed  as  pleased  as  if  I  were  doing  him  a  favour. 
His  manner  was  shy,  almost  timid,  and  his  lovely 
modesty  lent  a  touch  of  romance  to  an  occasion  that 
might  otherwise  have  seemed  quite  ordinary.  Before 
he  reeled  ofif  the  pictures  he  let  me  touch  his  clothes 
and  shoes  and  moustache  that  I  might  have  a  clearer 
idea  of  him  on  the  screen.  He  sat  beside  me  and 
asked  me  again  and  again  if  I  was  really  interested — 
if  I  liked  him  and  the  little  dog  in  the  picture. 

This  was  ten  years  ago.  Twice  since  then  he  has 
been  overpowered  by  the  tragedy  of  life  and  the 
fleeting  show  of  the  world  he  lives  in.  When  I  knew 
him  in  1918,  he  was  a  sincere,  thoughtful  young  man, 
deeply  interested  in  his  art  and  his  violin.  His  mind 
seemed  to  me  sensitive  and  fine.  Apropos  of  some- 
body's remark  about  the  power  of  mere  words  to 
amuse  and  enchant,  the  Prince  of  Jesters  quoted  from 
Omar  Khayyam: 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  195 
We  are  no  other  than  a  moving  row 
Of  magic  Shadow-shapes  that  come  and  go 
Round  with  the  Sun-illumined  Lantern  held 
In  Midnight  by  the  Master  of  the  Show. 

But  I  must  get  back  to  my  own  picture.  We  had 
not  been  long  at  work  before  we  began  to  realize  that 
there  was  very  little  drama  in  the  story  of  my  life. 
The  chorus  that  surrounded  Mr.  Piatt  suggested 
that  a  mystical  unfoldment  of  my  story  would  be 
more  interesting  than  a  matter-of-fact  narrative. 
When  he  said  that  it  would  be  impossible  to  film  they 
chanted  that  nothing  was  impossible  to  those  who 
tried. 

"Can't  you  see,"  they  wailed,  "that  there  has  been 
no  romance  in  Helen  Keller's  life— no  lover,  no  ad- 
ventures of  the  heart?  Let  her  imagine  a  lover  and 
follow  him  in  fancy.  The  picture  will  be  a  dismal 
failure  without  excitement." 

One  of  our  experiments  in  getting  excitement  was 
to  introduce  a  fight  in  which  Knowledge  and  Igno- 
rance contended  fiercely  for  my  mind  at  the  entrance 
of  the  Cave  of  Father  Time.  The  whole  company 
went  out  to  find  a  suitable  location  for  the  battle,  and 
a  spot  that  seemed  fairly  appropriate  was  chosen 
about  forty  miles  away  among  the  hills.  It  was  more 
exciting  than  a  real  prize  fight  because  one  of  the 
combatants  was  a  woman.  Ignorance,  a  hideous  giant, 


1196  MlDStREAM 

and  Knowledge,  white  and  panting,  wrestled  on  the 

hillside  for  the  spirit  of  the  infant  Helen. 

I  held  my  breath  when  Ignorance  hurled  Knowl- 
edge over  the  cliff,  wondering  what  insurance  we 
should  pay  her  if  she  Was  dead.  Ignorance,  laughing 
a  bloodthirsty  laugh,  stretched  his  mighty  limbs  on 
the  hill,  while  wild  surmises  ran  from  tongue  to 
tongue.  After  what  seemed  an  eternity,  Knowledge's 
pale  brow  appeared  above  the  edge  of  the  rocks.  Ap- 
parently she  was  only  a  little  breathless  from  her 
precipitous  descent  and  laborious  climb  back  to  the 
battlefield.  The  fight  recommenced  fiercer  than  ever. 
Finally,  Knowledge  got  Ignorance  at  a  disadvantage, 
her  floating  garments  having  entangled  him  and 
thrown  him  to  the  ground.  She  held  him  down  until 
he  gave  a  pledge  of  submission.  The  evil  genie  then 
departed  with  a  madman's  glare  of  hate  into  the 
shadows  of  the  earth,  while  Knowledge  covered  the 
infant  with  her  mantle  of  conscious  light. 

The  mystic  vapours  of  this  performance  distilled 
into  an  overflowing  cup  of  optimism.  It  was  now 
clear  to  the  dullest  of  us  that  there  was  no  limit  to 
what  might  be  wrought  into  the  Helen  Keller  pic- 
ture. Why  waste  time  on  a  historic  picture  when  the 
realm  of  imagination  was  ours  for  the  taking? 

While  Dr.  Edwin  Liebfreed  (the  man  who  paid 
the  bills)  raged,  everyone  else  imagined  vain  things 
and  set  the  cameras  to  work  on  them.  Suggestions 


Miss  Keller  teaching  Charlie  Chaplin  the  manual  alphabet. 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  197 

came  thicker  than  flies  in  summer,  confusing  the 
director  and  depriving  him  of  his  judgment,  raising 
such  a  dust  of  ideas  that  it  was  hard  to  see  anything 
clearly.  We  believed  we  were  to  contrive  a  great 
masterpiece.  I  am  sure  that  the  other  picture  people 
must  have  stood  by  and  marvelled  at  our  tremendous 
doings. 

It  was  in  connection  with  one  of  these  symbolic 
episodes  that  we  had  our  most  distressing  experi- 
ence in  Hollywood.  The  scene  represented  a  dream 
my  teacher  had  when  she  was  feeling  discouraged  be- 
cause I  did  not  yet  understand  the  meaning  of  lan- 
guage. She  fell  asleep,  and  lo!  there  was  Christ 
saying,  "Suffer  ye  little  children  to  come  unto  Me." 
She  was  filled  with  new  courage.  To  "make"  this 
picture,  we  all  went  out  into  the  arid  waste-lands 
near  Hollywood. 

The  cars  and  buses  debouched  a  hundred  or  more 
little  children  upon  the  scorched  and  glaring  soli- 
tude of  a  vacant  hillside.  This  very  rough  spot  had 
been  selected  because  it  resembled  Jerusalem.  Hur- 
riedly and  with  great  trepidation  the  director  tried 
to  marshal  his  unhappy  little  army  into  position;  but 
no  sooner  had  they  started  to  climb  the  hill  than  they 
set  up  howls  of  pain.  The  ground  was  thick  with 
sharp  burrs.  The  grown-ups  tried  to  carry  the  chil- 
dren in  their  arms  and  on  their  backs ;  but  there  were 
so  many  of  them,  and  the  climb  was  so  steep,  it  took 


198  MIDSTREAM 

a  long  time  to  get  them  all  up.  We  worked  in  the 
blazing  sun,  and  the  little  ones  grew  very  thirsty. 
Then  it  was  discovered  that  the  milk  for  the  children 
had  been  forgotten!  They  cried  pitifully,  and  the 
mothers  whose  fault  it  was  had  much  to  say  about 
the  cruelty  of  directors.  Messengers  were  dispatched 
to  town,  but  we  had  an  hour  or  more  of  wretched 
discomfort  before  they  returned. 

I  hope  that  sometime  a  director  will  write  a  book 
about  his  e^i:periences  on  location.  His  opinion  of 
the  members  of  the  human  species  who  sell  their 
children  to  producers  for  three  dollars  a  day  would 
be  enlightening. 

Before  I  went  to  Hollywood,  I  used  to  imagine 
that  artists  must  have  a  peculiarly  kind  feeling  to- 
ward the  models  who  embody  their  creations  in  films 
or  in  marble  or  on  canvas.  This  I  found  to  be  a 
delusion.  It  appears  that,  for  the  most  part,  the  work- 
ers in  human  material  despise  the  portion  of  man- 
kind who  help  them  to  realize  their  ideal.  I  sup- 
pose  Mark  Twain  had  this  in  mind  when  he  said, 
^'Let  us  be  thankful  for  the  fools.  But  for  them  the 
rest  of  us  could  not  succeed." 

,  We  planned  a  group  of  scenes  to  show  how  real 
the  adventures  of  Ulysses  were  to  me.  Since  I  had 
no  lover  Ulysses  could  be  mine.  I  remember  how 
excited  and  troubled  I  was  over  the  scene  in  which 
he  and  his  crew  were  shipwrecked.  The  "stars"  went 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  199 

away  to  Balboa,  where  the  waves  are  terribly  rough 
and  the  coast  is  full  of  treacherous  rocks.  The  realism 
of  the  details  that  were  spelled  to  me  made  me 
tremble— the  shattering  of  the  boat  against  the  rocks, 
the  frantic  struggling  of  the  men  amid  the  billows, 
the  sudden  disappearance  of  those  who  were  sup- 
posed to  be  drowned,  the  final  emergence  of  Ulysses 
and  a  few  strong  sailors  on  the  beautiful  but  baleful 
Isle  of  Circe.  There  was,  I  declare,  nothing  shadowy 
about  this  dangerous  acting! 

The  pilot  told  me  afterwards  that  I  myself  was  in 
danger  for  a  few  minutes  in  what  was  to  me  the  most 
thrilling  event  connected  with  the  picture — my  ride 
in  an  aeroplane.  It  was  only  material  for  more  film- 
shadows;  but  to  me  it  was  a  mighty  reality,  and  I 
completely  forgot  my  picture  self.  At  first  Mrs. 
Macy,  my  mother,  and  my  brother,  who  had  lately 
come  out  to  California  for  the  last  part  of  the  pic- 
ture, would  not  hear  of  my  being  taken  up ;  but  I 
insisted.  There  was  only  room  for  the  pilot  and  me. 
Was  I  afraid?  How  could  fear  hold  back  my  spirit, 
long  accustomed  to  soar?  Up,  up,  up  the  machine 
bore  me  until  I  lost  the  odours  of  the  flying  dust,  the 
ripening  vineyards  and  the  pungent  eucalyptus!  Up, 
up,  up,  I  climbed  the  aerial  mountains  until  I  felt 
rain-clouds  spilling  their  pearls  upon  me.  With 
lightning  speed  we  shot  over  the  tallest  buildings  of 
Los  Angeles  and  returned  to  the  field  after  half  an 


200  MIDSTREAM 

hour's  race  with  a  high  wind.  Then  the  machine  went 
through  a  series  of  amazing  dips!  I  felt  in  them,  as  it 
were,  organ  music  and  the  sweep  of  ocean,  winds 
from  off  mountains  and  illimitable  plains.  As  the 
machine  rose  and  fell,  my  brain  throbbed  with 
ecstatic  thoughts  that  whirled  on  tiptoe,  and  I  seemed 
to  sense  the  Dance  of  the  Gods.  I  had  never  had  such 
a  satisfying  sense  of  physical  liberty. 

Another  thrilling  day  came  when  we  went  down  to 
the  shipyards  at  San  Pedro.  The  idea  was  to  show 
that  I  had  caught  spiritual  vibrations  from  the  un- 
rest and  suffering  of  toiling  mankind — that  I  had 
felt  the  gigantic  throbs  of  labour's  thousand  ham- 
mers welding  the  instruments  with  which  fire,  water, 
and  the  winds  are  yoked  to  the  service  of  man.  At 
the  shipyards  I  found  myself  actually  in  the  midst 
of  the  most  tremendous  industrial  activity.  I  felt  the 
rhythmic  thunder  of  the  triple  hammers  in  the 
forge  and  the  searching  flame  and  the  sharp,  quick 
blows  of  the  men  driving  in  rivets,  the  vibrations  of 
huge  cranes  lifting  and  lowering  burdens. 

The  men  stopped  work  to  watch  me.  There  was 
a  babel  of  voices.  The  bosses  shouted,  ordering  the 
men  back  to  their  jobs ;  but  they  were  too  interested 
watching  a  blind  woman  on  the  monster  crane.  We 
were  told  that  our  visit  had  cost  Uncle  Sam  thousands 
of  dollars  by  slowing  up  the  work  for  three  hours. 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  201 

Afterwards  we  went  on  board  a  ship  that  had 
just  been  finished  and  was  about  to  be  launched,  and 
I  christened  it  by  breaking  a  bottle  of  champagne 
against  the  bow.  I  was  too  hot  and  thirsty  to  be  duly 
impressed  by  the  solemn  ceremony,  and,  as  I  hurled 
the  bottle,  I  let  escape  a  profound  sigh  at  the  waste 
of  so  precious  a  liquid.  At  twelve  o'clock  the  men 
shared  their  lunch  with  me  and  brought  me  a  glass 
of  cold  water  and  showed  the  kindest  interest  in  me. 
When  finally  we  got  into  the  automobile  and  turned 
hotelward  I  could  scarcely  move  or  think,  so  over- 
weighted was  I  with  a  world  of  emotions  and  new 
impressions. 

But  our  days  of  exaltation  were  followed  by  days 
of  discouragement.  Pessimists  said,  'The  picture 
will  be  a  hodge-podge.  There  are  too  many  points  of 
view  in  it."  What  particular  point  of  view  any  par- 
ticular person  held  it  was  difficult  to  find  out,  and 
no  wonder,  for  it  shifted  with  events  and  with  the 
coming  and  going  of  different  personalities. 

We  could  not  stifle  our  yearnings  for  the  bright 
vistas  of  an  immaterial  sphere.  Our  thoughts  turned 
from  the  heat  of  the  studio  to  ethereal  locations.  Mr. 
Piatt  protested,  but  when  someone  suggested  that  it 
was  foolish  to  be  making  the  picture  of  a  mortal 
woman  when  we  might  as  well  be  depicting  a  mys- 
tical Mother  of  Sorrows  wandering  lonely,  and  griev- 


202  MIDSTREAM 

ing  for  the  blind,  the  wounded,  and  the  fallen  of 
humanity,  he  was  completely  overruled.  Here  was 
inspiration  and  no  mistake. 

The  average  person  comforts  himself  with  the  re- 
flection that  he  did  not  make  human  beings,  and  is 
not  responsible  for  their  defects.  But  such  a  phi- 
losophy had  no  comfort  for  the  "Mother  of  Sor- 
rows." There  was  no  satisfaction  in  such  muddle- 
headed  serenity. 

The  day  this  part  of  the  picture  was  to  be  filmed 
we  found  within  the  gates  of  our  studio  a  great  crowd 
of  strange  creatures — men  and  women  of  all  races, 
colours,  ages,  and  degrees  of  deformity.  As  we  waited 
in  line  to  be  disinfected  (the  influenza  was  in  full 
swing,  and  everyone  who  entered  the  studio  had  to 
have  his  nostrils  and  throat  sprayed)  we  asked  the 
uniformed  attendants  if  all  that  mob  had  been  dis- 
infected before  us.  His  answer  made  us  believe  we 
were  reasonably  safe,  and  we  hurried  on. 
*  Several  men  minus  one  or  more  arms  and  legs 
were  performing  acrobatic  stunts  on  the  mounds  of 
earth  beside  a  ditch  where  water  pipes  were  being 
laid.  One  shard  with  two  sticks  for  legs  and  a  bent 
piece  of  steel  in  place  of  an  arm  swung  himself  back 
and  forth  across  the  ditch  on  his  crutches,  much  to 
the  delight  of  the  spectators.  A  blind  man  tapped  his 
way  along  the  walk.  Some  Chinese  squatted  on  the 
hot  sand  playing  fan-tan.  An  old  man  with  a  thick 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  203 

white  beard  and  bushy  white  hair  sat  on  a  canvas 
stool  playing  a  concertina.  Women  chattered  in  a 
medley  of  tongues. 

Miss  Thomson  asked  a  man  who  might  have  "been 
Jack-the-giant-killer  what  picture  they  were  mak- 
ing. "Keeler's,"  he  said.  "Who's  that?"  she  inquired. 
"Ask  me  something  easy,"  he  grinned. 

In  the  studio  our  people  were  very  busy.  Yes,  we 
were  going  out  on  location  that  day.  The  "Mother 
of  Sorrows"  would  appear  to  the  afflicted  of  the 
world  bearing  a  torch  of  hope.  To  our  amazement 
the  crowd  through  which  we  had  just  passed  clam- 
bered into  our  location  buses,  the  director,  camera 
men  and  principal  actors  got  into  waiting  automo- 
biles, and  the  procession  started.  On  the  way  we 
learned  some  of  the  details  of  what  was  going  to 
happen. 

The  police  had  given  us  permission  to  use  a 
notorious  alley  which  had  recently  been  closed.  It 
was  a  short,  narrow  street  with  two  entrances,  one 
from  the  main  street  and  the  other  from  a  higher 
level  reached  by  a  long  flight  of  rough  steps. 

The  alley  was  deserted  when  we  arrived,  but  when 
the  buses  unloaded  their  cargo  it  became  a  veritable 
Bedlam.  It  was  as  if  invisible  hands  had  emptied  a 
nondescript  Noah's  ark  there.  Dogs,  resembling  their 
human  partners,  appeared  from  nowhere.  Soon  the 
booths  were  filled  with  merchandise.  The  pawn  shops 


204  MIDSTREAM 

and  second  hand  clothing  shops  displayed  their  wares 
from  poles  outside  the  door.  There  were  tobacco 
stands,  shoe  repair  booths,  saloons,  and  there  were 
scissors  grinders,  peddlers,  and  fruit  venders  walking 
up  and  down  shouting  and  singing.  The  noise  was 
demoniacal,  and  the  smells  were  nauseating.  But 
even  more  irritating  than  noise  and  odours  was  the 
mad  jostling  of  the  crowd.  I  had  an  almost  irresist- 
ible impulse  to  strike  out — to  clutch  some  support 
amid  the  swaying  confusion. 

I  was  relieved  when  Mr.  Piatt's  boy,  Guy,  came 
for  me.  He  took  me  out  of  the  crowd  on  the  main 
street,  so  that  the  people  should  not  see  me  before  I 
made  my  appearance  at  the  upper  entrance  to  the 
alley.  The  ''Mother  of  Sorrows"  robe  was  draped 
over  my  head  and  arms  in  long,  flowing  folds  of 
heavy  material.  I  was  given  instructions  to  descend 
the  steps  very  slowly,  and  when  I  reached  the  pave- 
ment, I  was  to  walk  to  the  middle  of  the  alley  and 
stand  with  upraised  face  and  arms.  Afterwards  I 
was  told  that  when  I  first  started  down  the  steps, 
nobody  noticed  me.  Then  one  of  the  women,  lean- 
ing out  of  a  window,  caught  sight  of  me  and 
screamed.  There  was  a  wild  scramble.  Every  face 
was  turned  towards  the  steps.  As  I  came  on  down 
the  mass  seemed  to  become  one  body.  No  directing 
was  necessary.  They  behaved  as  their  instincts  of 
superstition  and  fear  dictated.  The  swaying,  uncer- 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  205 

tain  motion  of  my  body,  due  to  lack  of  balance, 
seemed  to  hypnotize  them.  They  sensed  something 
strange  in  my  bearing  and  my  unseeing  eyes.  When 
my  feet  touched  the  pavement,  those  near  me  fell 
on  their  knees,  and  before  I  reached  the  middle 
of  the  alley,  everyone  was  kneeling  without  a  signal 
from  the  director!  I  stood  as  motionless  as  a  statue 
for  a  few  terrifying  seconds,  not  knowing  ex- 
actly what  to  do.  I  sensed  the  hushed  and  unnatural 
stillness — the  palpitating  wall  of  fear  that  encircled 
me.  I  reached  out  my  hands  and  touched  the  bowed 
heads  of  those  who  were  nearest  me.  The  contact 
smote  my  soul,  and  the  tears  rolled  down  my  cheeks 
and  fell  upon  my  hands  and  the  heads  they  rested 
upon.  The  people  around  me  began  to  sob  aloud,  and 
draw  closer.  I  felt  them  touching  my  robe  and  my 
feet.  All  the  love  and  pity  which  until  that  moment 
I  had  been  trying  to  simulate  suddenly  rushed  over 
me  like  a  tide.  I  thought  my  heart  would  burst,  so 
overcharged  was  it  with  longing  to  lift  the  weary 
load  of  misery  beneath  my  hands.  Scarcely  knowing 
what  I  said,  I  prayed  as  I  had  never  prayed  in  my 
life  before. 

"Pity  us,  O  God!  Pity  our  helplessness,  our 
broken  lives  and  desecrated  bodies!  Pity  our  children 
who  wither  like  flowers  in  our  hands!  Pity  all  the 
maimed  and  the  marred !  We  beseech  Thee,  give  us 
a  sign  that  Thou  seest  our  blindness  and  hearest  our 


2o6  MIDSTREAM 

dumbness.  Deliver  us  out  of  the  alleys  and  gutters  of 
the  world  I  Deliver  us  from  the  poverty  that  is  blind- 
ness and  the  denial  that  is  deafness!  With  our  grop- 
ing hands  we  pray  Thee,  break  the  yoke  that  is 
heavy  upon  us.  Come,  O  come  to  our  hearts  choked 
with  weeds,  to  our  sin-fettered  souls,  to  Thy  people 
without  a  refuge!  Come  to  the  children  whose  para- 
dise we  have  betrayed!  Come  to  the  hungry  whom 
no  one  feeds,  to  the  sick  whom  no  one  visits,  to  the 
criminals  whom  no  one  pities!  Forgive  us  our  weak 
excuses  and  the  sins  we  have  committed  one  against 
another  in  Thy  Name." 

The  scene  that  capped  the  climax  for  absurdity 
was  one  in  which  I  was  supposed  to  go  to  France 
during  the  conference  at  which  the  Big  Four  were 
deciding  the  fate  of  the  world,  and  urge  them  to 
bring  the  war  to  a  finish.  I  was  to  stuff  my  mouth 
with  golden  opinions  and  placatory  speeches  to  the 
councillors  and  generals  against  whose  wicked  stu- 
pidities I  had  never  missed  a  chance  to  vent  my  in- 
dignation. To  this  day  I  am  glad  of  the  opportunity 
they  gave  me  to  tell  those  spinners  of  human  destiny 
all  that  I  thought  of  them!  Full  of  "pomp  and  cir- 
cumstance" without,  and  a  volcano  within,  I  walked 
stiffly  to  the  council  board,  escorted  by  Mr.  Lloyd 
George,  and  I  remember  I  touched  only  the  finger 
tips  of  Monsieur  Clemenceau's  gloved  hand.  For- 
tunately, we  realized  before  we  left  Hollywood  that 


I  MAKE  BELIEVE  I  AM  AN  ACTRESS  207 

this  was  too  ridiculous,  and  it  was  not  incorporated 
in  the  picture,  nor  were  many  of  our  other  flights  of 
fancy. 

The  memory  of  the  last  scenes  always  causes  me  to 
smile,  they  were  such  a  curious  fantasy.  I  was  sup- 
posed to  be  a  sort  of  Joan  of  Arc  fighting  for  the 
freedom  of  the  workers  of  the  world,  and  a  vast  pro- 
cession was  gathered  for  the  march  upon  the  bul- 
warks of  the  enemy.  I  was  placed  at  the  front  on  a 
white  horse.  I  might  have  managed  Peggy,  for  I 
was  accustomed  to  her  gait,  but  alas!  Peggy  was 
dark,  and  we  must  needs  have  a  big  white  horse  for 
that  grand  occasion.  The  powerful  creature  I  rode 
was  named  Sligo,  which  is  Irish,  and  his  tempera- 
ment was  like  his  name.  I  really  believe  that  he  was 
in  his  element  in  that  wild  charge  of  the  imagination. 
Of  course  it  was  a  motley  swarm  of  people  dressed 
in  all  sorts  of  queer  costumes  to  represent  all  the 
peoples  of  the  earth,  and  there  was  a  dreadful  con- 
fusion of  horses,  shouts,  waving  banners,  and  trump- 
ets blown  loud  and  long.  Naturally,  Sligo  became 
restive  and  charged  as  he  should ;  but  the  violence  of 
his  movements  was  disconcerting  to  me,  especially 
as  I  held  the  reins  in  one  hand  and  a  trumpet  in 
the  other,  which  I  was  directed  to  blow  every  now 
and  then.  Out  there  in  the  fierce  California  sun  I 
grew  hotter,  redder,  and  more  embarrassed  every 
second.  The  perspiration  rolled  down  my  face,  and 


2o8  MIDSTREAM 

the  trumpet  tasted  nasty.  When  without  warning 
Sligo  decided  to  stand  up  on  his  hind  legs,  one  of 
the  camera  men,  at  the  risk  of  his  life,  ran  under 
him  and  pulled  on  an  invisible  rein  to  bring  him 
down  to  earth  again.  I  was  glad  when  it  was  all  over, 
and  my  quaint  fancy  of  leading  the  people  of  the 
world  to  victory  has  never  been  so  ardent  since. 


Chapter  XIII 


THE    PLAY  WORLD 

The  picture  was  not  a  financial  success.  My  sense 
of  pride  mutinies  against  my  confession;  but  we  are 
the  kind  of  people  who  come  out  of  an  enterprise 
poorer  than  we  went  into  it,  and  I  am  sorry  to  say, 
this  condition  is  not  always  confined  to  ourselves. 

We  returned  to  our  home  in  Forest  Hills  and  for 
two  years  lived  quietly.  But  we  were  faced  with  the 
necessity  of  earning  more  money.  The  funds  my 
friends  had  provided  for  my  support  would  cease 
with  my  death,  and  if  I  died  before  my  teacher,  she 
would  be  left  almost  destitute.  The  income  I  had  I 
could  live  on,  but  I  could  not  save  anything. 

In  the  winter  of  1920  we  went  into  vaudeville  and 
remained  until  the  spring  of  1924.  That  does  not 
mean  that  we  worked  continually  during  all  four 
years.  We  appeared  for  short  periods  in  and  around 
New  York,  in  New  England,  and  in  Canada.  In  1921 
and  1922  we  went  from  coast  to  coast  on  the 
Orpheum  Circuit. 

It  had  always  been  said  that  we  went  into  public 
life  only  to  attract  attention,  and  I  had  letters  from 
friends  in  Europe  remonstrating  with  me  about  "the 

209 


2IO  MIDSTREAM 

deplorable  theatrical  exhibition"  into  which  I  had 
allowed  myself  to  be  dragged.  Now  the  truth  is,  I 
went  of  my  own  free  will  and  persuaded  my  teacher 
to  go  with  me.  Vaudeville  offered  us  better  pay  than 
either  literary  work  or  lecturing.  Besides,  the  work 
was  easier  in  an  essential  respect — we  usually  stayed 
in  one  place  a  week,  instead  of  having  to  travel  con- 
stantly from  town  to  town  and  speak  so  soon  after 
our  arrival  that  we  had  no  time  for  rest  or  prepara- 
tion. We  were  on  the  stage  only  twenty  minutes  in 
the  afternoon  and  evening,  and  the  rules  of  the 
theatre  usually  protected  us  against  the  friendly  in- 
vasion of  the  crowds  who  used  to  swarm  around  to 
shake  hands  with  us  at  the  lectures. 

My  teacher  was  not  happy  in  vaudeville.  She 
could  never  get  used  to  the  rush,  glare,  and  noise 
of  the  theatre;  but  I  enjoyed  it  keenly.  At  first  it 
seemed  odd  to  find  ourselves  on  the  same  ''bill"  with 
acrobats,  monkeys,  horses,  dogs,  and  parrots ;  but  our 
little  act  was  dignified  and  people  seemed  to  like  it. 

I  found  the  world  of  vaudeville  much  more  amus- 
ing than  the  world  I  had  always  lived  in,  and  I  liked 
it.  I  liked  to  feel  the  warm  tide  of  human  life  puls- 
ing round  and  round  me.  I  liked  to  weep  at  its  sor- 
rows, to  be  annoyed  at  its  foibles,  to  laugh  at  its  ab- 
surdities, to  be  set  athrill  by  its  flashes  of  unexpected 
goodness  and  courage.  I  enjoyed  watching  the  actors 
in  the  workshop  of  faces  and  costumes.  If  I  should  re- 


THE  PLAY  WORLD  211 

late  ^^the  strength  and  riches  of  their  state" — the 
powder,  the  patches  and  masks,  the  ribbons,  jewels, 
and  livery;  and  if  I  should  describe  the  charm- 
ing bits  of  acts  which  were  performed  for  me  off 
stage  I  should  be  more  voluminous  than  Who's  Who 
in  America,  I  must  be  content  to  say  I  was  often 
admitted  to  the  dressing  room  of  the  other  actors, 
and  that  many  of  them  let  me  feel  their  costumes  and 
even  went  through  their  acts  for  me.  The  thought 
often  occurred  to  me  that  the  parts  the  actors  played 
was  their  real  life,  and  all  the  rest  was  make-believe. 
I  still  think  so,  and  hope  it  is  true,  for  the  sake  of 
many  to  whom  fate  is  unkind  in  the  real  world. 

I  can  conceive  that  in  time  the  spectacle  might 
have  grown  stale.  I  might  have  come  to  hear  the  per- 
sonal confessions  of  my  fellow  actors  without  emo- 
tion, and  to  regard  the  details  of  wild  parties  and 
excursions  with  impatience.  But  I  shall  always  be 
glad  I  went  into  vaudeville,  not  only  for  the  excite- 
ment of  it,  but  also  for  the  opportunities  it  gave  me 
to  study  life. 

In  the  nature  of  things  a  lecture  tour  exposes  one 
to  many  unpleasant  experiences.  Our  lecture  contract 
required  that  we  collect  the  money  before  we  went 
on  the  platform,  but  that  was  seldom  possible  and  we 
disliked  to  imply  distrust  by  demanding  payment. 
In  Seattle  we  gave  two  lectures  to  appreciative 
audiences,  one  in  the  afternoon  and  the  other  in  the 


212 


MIDSTREAM 


evening.  The  local  manager  told  us  he  would  not  be 
able  to  pay  us  our  share,  which  was  a  thousand  dol- 
lars, until  after  the  evening  performance.  He  did 
not  appear  in  the  theatre  after  the  evening  lecture, 
and  we  had  no  way  of  getting  our  money  from  him. 
Our  manager  was  not  interested  in  a  lawsuit  so  far 
away,  and  we  were  obliged  to  pay  him  a  percentage 
whether  we  were  paid  or  not;  so  he  suffered  no  loss 
on  our  account. 

This  happened  many  times — in  Dunkirk,  New 
York;  Meadville,  Pennsylvania;  Ashtabula,  Ohio; 
and  San  Diego  and  Santa  Rosa,  California.  In  no 
case  was  the  town  responsible ;  it  was  the  fault  of  the 
local  manager.  Once  when  we  did  demand  payment 
and  refused  to  appear  when  it  was  not  made,  the 
audience  became  indignant,  and  the  next  morning 
the  newspapers  came  out  with  a  great  headline, 
"Helen  Keller  refused  to  speak  unless  she  held  the 
money  in  her  hand."  We  decided  never  to  put  our- 
selves in  that  position  again.  Once  when  we  spoke  at 
Allerton,  Iowa,  a  crowd  came  to  hear  us,  and 
our  share  of  the  proceeds — we  were  to  go  fifty-fifty 
with  the  manager — was  over  seven  hundred  dollars. 
It  was  amusing  to  see  how  reluctant  the  men  in 
charge  were  to  pay  it.  In  Vancouver  we  had  so  much 
larger  audience  than  the  local  manager  expected  that 
he  paid  us  twice  as  much  as  the  contract  called  for. 

Some  of  the  theatres  where  we  went  were  beauti- 


THE  PLAY  WORLD  213 

ful,  and  most  of  them  comfortable.  Mr.  Albee,  who 
is  at  the  head  of  the  organization,   is  a  man 
of  singular  ability  and  kindness  of  heart,  and 
he  concerns  himself  earnestly  with  everything  that 
promotes  the  welfare  of  the  actors  and  the  efficiency 
of  their  work.  Very  few  of  them  are  permitted  to 
come  into  his  presence,  but  his  good  will  radiates 
through  his  staff  from  one  end  of  the  system  to  the 
other.  We  found  most  of  our  managers  courteous, 
and  some  of  them  were  beloved.  I  shall  always  be 
grateful  to  my  personal  manager,  Mr.  Harry  Weber, 
who  never  failed  us  in  service  and  loyalty.  Mr. 
Albee  is  interested  not  only  in  the  functioning  of  his 
mammoth  machine,  but  also  in  the  human  cogs  and 
wheels  that  make  it  go.  Not  one  of  these  small  cease- 
lessly moving  parts  gets  out  of  order  but  he  knows 
it,  and  makes  every  effort  to  repair  it,  whatever 
the  cause  or  the  cost.  He  has  kept  individuals  in 
shows  who  are  blind  or  deaf  or  crippled,  but  whose 
handicap  is  cleverly  concealed  from  the  public.  An 
important  branch  of  his  humanitarian  work  is 
the  National  Vaudeville  Association,  which  has  ten 
thousand  members.  Each  membership  carries  with  it 
a  paid-up  insurance  policy  of  a  thousand  dollars,  and 
in  cases  of  illness,  idleness,  or  other  misfortune,  every- 
one is  sure  to  receive  financial  aid,  no  matter  in  what 
part  of  the  world  he  may  be.  The  Association  main- 
tains a  sanitarium  for  tubercular  members,  and  there 


214  MIDSTREAM 

are  health  camps  in  California,  Arizona,  Colorado, 
and  other  places. 

The  audiences  always  made  us  feel  their  interest 
and  friendliness.  Som^etimes  many  of  them  were 
foreigners,  and  could  not  understand  what  we  said, 
but  their  applause  and  sympathy  were  gratifying. 
After  my  teacher  had  explained  how  I  was  taught, 
I  made  my  entrance  and  gave  a  brief  talk,  at  the  end 
of  which  the  audience  was  allowed  to  ask  questions. 
Some  of  them  were  very  funny.  Can  you  tell  the  time 
of  day  without  a  watch?  Have  you  ever  thought  of 
getting  married?  Have  you  ever  used  a  ouija  board? 
Do  you  think  business  is  looking  up?  Am  I  going  on 
a  trip?  Why  has  a  cow  two  stomachs?  How  much  is 
too  many?  Do  you  believe  in  ghosts?  Do  you  think 
it  is  a  blessing  to  be  poor?  Do  you  dream?  There 
were  hundreds  of  them. 

I  am  always  intensely  conscious  of  my  audience. 
Before  I  say  a  word  I  feel  its  breath  as  it  comes  in 
little  pulsations  to  my  face.  I  sense  its  appreciation 
or  indifiPerence.  I  found  vaudeville  audiences  espe- 
cially easy  to  speak  before.  They  were  much  more 
demonstrative  than  most  others,  and  showed  instantly 
when  they  were  pleased.  One  of  the  queerest  experi- 
ences I  ever  had  was  the  first  time  I  spoke  from 
a  pulpit.  The  audience  seemed  so  quiet  and  the  read- 
ing desk  was  so  high  I  felt  as  if  I  were  speaking  to 
them  over  a  wall.  A  similar  experience  came  when  I 


THE  PLAY  WORLD  215 
spoke  over  the  radio.  I  felt  as  if  I  were  speaking  to 
ghosts.  There  were  no  life  vibrations— no  shuffling 
feet,  no  sound  of  applause,  no  odour  of  tobacco  or 
cosmetics,  only  a  blankness  into  which  my  words 
floated.  I  never  had  that  bewildered  feeling  before  a 
vaudeville  audience. 


Chapter  XIV 


MY  MOTHER 

It  was  while  I  was  in  vaudeville  that  the  first 
bereavement  came  which  struck  at  the  very  roots 
of  my  life.  My  mother  died  while  we  were  appear- 
ing in  Los  Angeles.  My  father's  death,  which  oc- 
curred while  I  was  a  young  girl  sixteen  years  old, 
never  seemed  so  real  to  me.  But  I  had  had  my  mother 
all  those  years  and  fine  ligaments  of  love  and  sym- 
pathy had  knit  us  together. 

I  have  no  vivid  recollections  of  her  before  my 
education  began.  I  have  a  dim  sensation  of  arms 
about  me,  and  hands  that  wiped  away  my  tears;  but 
such  memories  are  too  vague  to  bring  before  me  a 
picture  of  her. 

She  used  to  tell  me  how  happy  she  was  when 
I  was  born.  She  dwelt  on  her  memories  of  the  eight- 
een months  when  I  could  see  and  hear.  She  told  me 
how,  as  soon  as  I  could  walk,  I  chased  sunbeams  and 
butterflies,  how  I  held  out  my  little  hands  to  pet 
every  creature  I  saw  and  was  never  afraid.  "And 
what  wonderful  eyes  you  had  1"  she  would  say,  "you 
were  always  picking  up  needles  and  buttons  which  no 
one  else  could  find."  She  had  a  pretty  workbasket 

216 


MY  MOTHER  117 

which  stood  on  three  slender  legs,  quite  high  above 
the  floor.  It  had  holes  all  round  near  the  top.  She 
loved  to  tell  how  I  would  come  to  her  knees  and  lisp 
something  which  she  interpreted  to  mean,  ^'I  wonder 
when  I  shall  be  tall  enough  to  look  through  those 
holes  and  see  what  is  in  the  basket."  She  also  re- 
membered my  delight  in  the  open  wood  fire,  and  told 
how  I  insisted  upon  sitting  up  late  watching  the 
sparks  and  laughing  as  they  danced  up  the  chimney. 
"Yes,  life  was  good  to  us  both  for  a  few  brief 
months,"  she  would  say  wistfully.  Then  when  she  was 
twenty-three  came  the  illness  which  left  me  deaf  and 
blind,  and  ^fter  that  life  was  never  the  same  to  her. 
It  was  as  if  a  white  winter  had  swept  over  the  June 
of  her  youth;  I  know,  although  she  never  said  it, 
that  she  suffered  more  through  me  than  through  her 
other  children.  Her  nature  was  not  expansive  or 
happy.  She  made  few  close  friends,  and  wherever  she 
sojourned,  the  sorrow  and  loneliness  of  her  spirit 
persisted.  The  larger  opportunities  for  enjoyment 
and  intellectual  enrichment  which  she  gained  on  her 
journeys  with  us  or  her  visits  in  our  home  at  Wrent- 
ham  did  not  erase  from  her  heart  the  sense  of  tragedy 
and  denial  which  my  limitations  kept  always  before 
her.  That  her  suffering  was  crushed  into  silence  did 
not  lessen  its  intensity.  But  there  was  nothing  selfish 
in  her  sorrow.  What  she  had  suffered  broadened  and 
deepened  her  sympathy  for  others. 


2i8  MIDSTREAM 

She  never  talked  about  herself.  She  was  sensitive 
even  to  the  point  of  pain,  and  shy  of  revealing  her- 
self even  to  her  children.  But,  veiled  as  her  person- 
ality was,  she  was  always  an  intimate  part  of  our 
lives.  It  was  inexpressibly  sweet  the  way  she  said  to 
me  that  her  last  thought  at  night  and  her  first  thought 
in  the  morning  was  of  me.  She  suffered  much  from 
rheumatism  in  her  hands,  and  she  found  it  most  dif- 
ficult to  write  in  braille,  which  disappointed  her 
keenly  because  she  never  liked  to  have  anyone  read 
her  letters  to  me. 

It  is  a  comfort  to  me  to  believe  that  all  she  hoped 
and  prayed  for  was  fulfilled  in  her  second  child,  my 
lovely  sister  Mildred.  Five  years  after  her  birth  came 
my  brother  Phillips,  who  bears  the  name  of  one  of 
my  earliest  and  dearest  friends,  Phillips  Brooks. 
When  my  father  died,  my  mother  devoted  herself  to 
the  bringing  up  of  her  two  younger  children.  (I  was 
away  from  home  most  of  the  time,  in  New  York  and 
Boston.)  Then  Mildred  married  Warren  L.  Tyson 
of  Montgomery,  Alabama,  and  my  mother  spent  the 
later  years  of  her  life  partly  with  them  and  with 
me. 

By  temperament  my  mother  was  not  domestic ;  but 
after  she  married  my  father,  she  had  a  large  Southern 
household  to  manage.  She  carried  the  whole  burden 
of  housekeeping,  supervision  of  negro  workers,  gar- 
dening, looking  after  the  poultry,  preparing  hams 


MY  MOTHER  219 

and  lard,  sewing  for  the  children,  and  entertaining 
the  guests  whom  my  father  brought  home  to  dinner 
almost  every  day.  She  was  an  expert  in  the  science 
of  poultry-raising.  Her  hams  were  praised  all  the 
country  round;  her  jellies  and  preserves  were  the 
envy  of  our  neighbours.  She  went  about  these  homely 
tasks  silent,  unutterably  sad,  with  me  clinging  to  her 
skirts.  Tall  and  stately  as  Juno,  she  stood  beside  the 
great  iron  kettles,  directing  the  negroes  in  all  the 
processes  of  making  lard.  My  teacher  often  won- 
dered how  such  a  sensitive,  high-strung  woman  could 
endure  this  sort  of  work;  but  my  mother  never  com- 
plained. She  threw  herself  into  these  tasks  as  if  she 
had  no  other  interest  in  life.  Whatever  the  problem, 
whether  in  the  house,  the  chicken  yard  or  out  on  the 
farm,  for  the  time  being  she  gave  her  whole  mind  to 
it.  She  said  to  Miss  Sullivan  once,  "Of  course  lard- 
making  hasn't  the  charm  of  sculpture  or  architecture 
or  poetry;  but  I  suppose  it  has  its  importance  in  the 
universal  scheme  of  things." 

She  was  passionately  devoted  to  her  gardening  and 
to  her  flowers.  Nothing  delighted  her  more  than  to 
nurse  a  plant  weakling  into  strength  and  bloom.  The 
wealth  of  her  heart  had  to  spend  itself  even  upon  the 
most  unworthy  of  nature's  children.  One  early  spring 
morning  she  went  out  to  look  at  some  young  rose 
bushes  which  she  had  set  out  some  time  before,  think- 
ing that  the  warm  days  were  surely  coming.  She 


110  MIDSTREAM 

found  that  a  heavy  frost  had  killed  them,  and  she 
wrote  me  that  very  morning  that  *'like  David  when 
his  son  died,  she  lifted  up  her  voice  and  wept." 

Her  love  of  birds  was  equal  to  her  love  of  flowers. 
She  would  spend  hours  in  the  little  wood  near  our 
house  in  Wrentham  watching  their  pretty  antics 
when  they  made  love,  or  built  their  nests,  or  fed  the 
young  birds  and  taught  them  to  fly.  The  mocking 
bird  and  the  thrush  were  the  darlings  of  her  heart. 

My  mother  talked  intelligently,  brilliantly,  about 
current  events,  and  she  had  a  Southerner's  interest  in 
politics.  But  after  my  mind  took  a  radical  turn  she 
could  never  get  over  the  feeling  that  we  had  drifted 
apart.  It  grieves  me  that  I  should  have  added  to  the 
sadness  that  weighed  upon  her,  but  I  have  the  con- 
solation of  remembering  that  no  differences  could 
take  away  from  us  the  delight  of  talking  together. 

She  was  an  omnivorous  reader.  She  welcomed  all 
books  new  or  old,  in  the  English  of  Chaucer  or  the 
English  of  Ruskin.  She  had  a  horror  of  mediocrity 
and  hypocrisy.  I  remember  the  scorn  in  her  words 
as  she  quoted  some  bromide  that  was  pronounced  by 
a  dull  celebrity.In  keenness  of  wit  she  resembled  Mrs. 
Carlyle,  whose  letters  she  read  with  pleasure.  Mr. 
Macy  introduced  her  to  Sydney  Smith,  and  she  used 
to  say  that  his  sayings  were  a  silent  accompaniment 
to  her  thoughts.  BoswelPs  Johnson  also  gave  her 
many  bright  moments.  Bernard  Shaw  irritated  her, 


Copyright  by  Gerhard  Sisters  Photo  Co. 

Miss  Keller  s  mother,  Miss  Sullivan  {Mrs.  Macy), 
Miss  Keller. 


MY  MOTHER 


221 


not  because  he  was  radical  or  sarcastic,  but  because  he 
was  a  chronic  iconoclast.  She  had  no  patience  with 
Lawrence's  books.  She  would  exclaim,  "He  seems 
incapable  of  conceiving  purity  and  innocence  in  a 
woman.  To  him  love  is  indecent.  No  modest  violets 
grow  in  the  fields  of  life  for  him." 

But  in  the  presence  of  true  genius  her  humility- 
was  complete.  Walt  Whitman  did  not  shock  her.  She 
knew  several  of  Balzac's  books  almost  by  heart.  She 
read  Rabelais,  Montesquieu,  and  Montaigne.  When 
she  read  Lanier  she  said  '^his  ^gray  and  sober  dove,' 
with  the  eye  of  faith  and  the  wing  of  love,  nestled  in 
her  bosom." 

One  memorable  summer  we  rented  a  cottage  on 
Lake  St.  Catherine,  in  Vermont.  How  we  all  enjoyed 
the  lovely  lake,  the  pine-covered  hills,  and  the  wind- 
ing green  alleys  they  call  roads  in  Vermont!  I  have 
a  mental  picture  of  her  which  I  treasure,  seated  on 
the  little  porch  which  overlooked  the  lake,  in  the  eve- 
ning, her  dear  hands  idle  for  a  few  minutes,  while 
she  watched  the  children  and  young  people  in  boats 
and  canoes,  with  a  tender,  wistful  expression  on  her 
beautiful  face  as  the  sun  disappeared  behind  the 
green  hills. 

When  the  World  War  burst  upon  us  she  refused 
to  talk  about  it,  and  when  she  saw  the  thousands  of 
young  men  who  were  encamped  round  about  Mont- 
gomery, her  heart  yearned  to  shield  them  from  the 


222 


MIDSTREAM 


horrors  which  awaited  them.  When  Russia  offered 
her  splendid  peace  terms  to  the  Allies,  my  mother 
said  she  wanted  to  stretch  her  arms  across  the  ocean 
and  embrace  the  one  country  which  had  the  courage 
and  the  generosity  to  call  war  a  crime  against 
humanity. 

Her  death  came  as  she  had  always  prayed  it  would, 
swiftly,  before  she  was  old  and  dependent.  She  had 
dreaded  illness  and  the  slow  parting  scenes  that 
usually  precede  death,  and  she  desired  that  she 
might  die  in  her  sleep,  or  suddenly.  So  it  was  ac- 
cording to  her  wish  that  the  end  came.  She  was  with 
her  dear  ones  in  Montgomery,  but  no  one  saw  her 
die. 

I  received  the  telegram  telling  of  her  death  two 
hours  before  I  had  to  go  on  the  stage.  I  had  not  even 
known  she  was  ill.  Every  fibre  of  my  being  cried  out 
at  the  thought  of  facing  the  audience,  but  it  had  to  be 
done.  Fortunately,  they  did  not  know  what  I  was  suf- 
fering, and  that  made  it  a  little  easier  for  my  teacher 
and  me.  One  of  the  questions  asked  me  that  day  was, 
^'How  old  are  you?"  How  old,  indeed!  I  felt  as  old 
as  time,  and  I  answered,  ''How  old  do  I  look?"  The 
people  laughed,  pleased  that  I  had  evaded  telling 
my  age,  which  they  supposed  would  have  been  em- 
barrassing to  me.  Another  question  was,  "Are  you 
happy?"  I  swallowed  hard  and  answered:  "Yes,  be- 
cause I  have  confidence  in  God."  Then  it  was  over, 


MY  MOTHER  223 

and  for  a  little  while  I  could  sit  alone  with  my  sor- 
row. I  had  absolute  faith  that  we  should  meet  again 
in  the  Land  of  Eternal  Beauty;  but  oh,  the  dreary 
blank  her  going  left  in  my  life!  I  missed  her  every- 
where I  went  over  the  road  she  had  travelled  with 
me.  I  missed  her  braille  letters,  and  she  seemed 
to  have  died  a  second  time  when  I  visited  my  sister 
in  Montgomery  the  following  April.  The  only 
thought  that  upheld  me  was  that  in  the  Great  Be- 
yond where  all  truth  shines  revealed  she  would  find 
in  my  limitations  a  satisfying  sense  of  God's  purpose 
of  good  which  runs  like  a  thread  of  gold  through  all 
things. 


Chapter  XV 
LUX  IN  TENEBRIS 

It  was  in  1 92 1  that  the  central  clearing  house  which 
had  for  so  many  years  been  recognized  as  the  chief 
need  of  the  blind  came  into  being.  It  was  conceived 
by  a  blind  man,  Mr.  H.  Randolph  Latimer,  Super- 
intendent of  the  Western  Pennsylvania  Institution 
for  the  Blind,  and  launched  at  the  annual  meeting  of 
the  American  Association  of  Workers  for  the  Blind, 
in  Vinton,  Iowa. 

Its  first  president  was  Mr.  M.  C.  Migel  of  New 
York.  It  is  because  of  his  constant  helpfulness  that 
the  American  Foundation  for  the  Blind  has  achieved 
the  degree  of  usefulness  which  it  has  to-day.  With 
the  cooperation  of  his  friends  he  financed  it  until 
1924  v^hen  an  appeal  was  made  to  the  public  for  a 
permanent  endowment  and  Mrs.  Macy  and  I  were 
asked  to  lecture  in  its  behalf. 

It  is  not  pleasant  to  go  begging  even  for  the  best 
of  causes,  but  in  our  present  civilization  most  philan- 
thropic and  educational  institutions  are  supported 
by  public  donations  and  gifts  from  wealthy 
citizens.  This  is  a  wretched  way,  but  we  have  not  yet 

learned  a  better  one,  and  until  we  do,  individuals 

224 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  225 

like  myself  will  continue  to  travel  up  and  down  the 
land,  and  up  and  down  in  the  elevators  of  great 
office  buildings,  to  solicit  funds  from  rich  men.  We 
will  stand  at  doors  and  street  corners,  hat  in  hand, 
begging  pennies  from  every  passer-by,  we  will  climb 
on  to  the  running  board  of  automobiles  held  in 
traffic  to  plead  with  some  wealthy  person  to  take  our 
precious  cause  under  his  golden  wing. 

During  all  the  years  of  lecturing,  picture-making, 
and  vaudeville  I  had  never  ceased  to  dream  of  a  hap- 
pier world  for  the  sightless,  but  no  practical  way  of 
realizing  this  dream  had  presented  itself  until  now. 
Throughout  my  journeys  all  over  the  country  I  had 
realized  that  in  spite  of  all  that  had  been  done  for 
the  blind,  in  spite  of  all  that  had  been  written  about 
them,  people  still  considered  them  a  group  apart. 

Dear  reader,  let  me  ask  you  to  stop  for  a  moment ' 
and  try  to  visualize  your  blind  neighbour.  You  have 
met  him  often  in  the  street,  in  sunshine  and  in  rain, 
cautiously  threading  his  way  among  his  unseen  fel- 
lows, his  cane  tapping  the  pavement,  his  body  tense, 
his  ears  straining  to  hear  sounds  that  will  guide  him 
in  the  invisible  maze.  You  have  glanced  at  him  pity- 
ingly, and  gone  your  way  thinking  how  strange  his 
thoughts  must  be,  his  feelings  how  different  from 
your  own.  My  friend,  have  done  with  this  cruel 
illusion  and  try  to  learn  the  truth.  Hearts  are  hearts 
and  pain  is  pain,  and  joy,  ambition,  and  love  are  in 


226  MIDSTREAM 

the  blind  man  even  as  in  you.  He  wants  the  same 
things  that  you  do.  Like  you  he  dreams  of  love  and 
success  and  happiness.  You  v^ould  still  be  yourself  if 
an  accident  blinded  you  to-morrov^;  your  desires 
w^ould  be  the  same. 

You  have  perhaps  thought  that  his  greatest  loss  is 
that  he  is  not  able  to  enjoy  the  colours  of  the  sunset, 
the  contours  of  the  hills,  the  moon  and  the  stars, 
but  he  could  tell  you  that  he  v^ould  not  mind  very 
much  that  the  blue  sky  is  blotted  out  if  he  could  shake 
off  the  thousand  petty  restraints  that  encompass  him. 
The  hardest  thing  we  have  to  bear  is  that  we  cannot 
I  go  about  the  simplest  matters  of  life  alone.  With 
jail  our  hearts  we  desire  to  be  strong,  free,  and 
useful. 

In  most  countries  and  most  ages,  the  blind  have 
been  considered,  with  a  few  outstanding  exceptions, 
as  objects  of  charity,  of  pity,  of  contempt,  even  of 
cruelty.  The  affliction  has  frequently  been  looked 
upon  as  a  Divine  visitation,  and  the  role  of  the  blind 
man  has  been  that  of  the  beggar  by  the  wayside,  and 
his  dwelling  place  has  been  the  almshouse.  Yet  even 
under  these  hard  conditions  there  have  emerged 
from  this  realm  of  never-ending  darkness  many 
heroic  figures.  As  Milton  proudly  said,  "It  is  not  so 
wretched  to  be  blind  as  it  is  not  to  be  capable  of  en- 
during blindness." 

We  do  not  ask  to  be  coddled.  It  is  the  last  thing 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  227 

tHe  blind  need.  It  is  not  helpful  but  in  the  long  run 
harmful  to  buy  worthless  articles  because  a  blind 
person  made  them,  but  for  many  years  kind-hearted 
people  have  been  buying  useless  and  often  ugly 
things  for  no  other  reason.  Quantities  of  beadwork, 
to  take  only  one  example,  which  could  appeal  to  no 
eye  but  the  eye  of  pity  have  passed  as  specimens  of 
what  the  blind  can  do.  Yet  with  a  lovely  design  and 
a  little  supervision  the  blind  can  do  as  beautiful 
beadwork  as  the  seeing. 

Even  in  the  matter  of  books  the  seeing  have  shown 
that  they  consider  us  a  group  apart.  They  have  often 
contributed  books  of  a  rather  gloomy,  preachy  char- 
acter to  our  reading  rooms,  apparently  supposing 
that  our  books  must  be  in  keeping  with  our  mis- 
fortune. But  it  is  worth  while  to  notice  that  the  cheer- 
ful books  are  well-thumbed  while  the  mournful  ones 
stand  unmolested  in  stern  dignity  on  the  upper  shelf. 

The  number  of  books  we  have  is  far  greater  than 
it  was  when  I  was  in  school,  but  in  comparison  with 
those  of  the  seeing  we  have  few  indeed.  I  have  been 
told  that  for  the  seeing  more  than  10,000  titles  a  year 
are  published.  We  have  in  all,  outside  of  textbooks, 
3150  titles.  We  are  grateful  for  them,  but  we  are 
hungry  for  more  and  more  variety. 

Much  is  being  done  to  assuage  this  hunger.  For- 
merly the  fact  that  a  book  was  in  raised  print  did  not 
mean  that  all  the  blind  could  read  it,  but  since  the 


228  MIDSTREAM 
Uniform  Type  Committee  of  the  American  Asso- 
ciation of  Workers  for  the  Blind  has  brought  about 
the  adoption  of  one  system  of  embossed  print 
throughout  America,  everything  henceforth  will  be 
easily  read  by  all  the  blind.  This  was  done  through 
the  generosity  of  Mr.  Migel,  who  financed  the  work 
of  the  committee.  The  head  of  the  committee  was 
Robert  B.  Irwin,  our  beloved  comrade  in  the  dark 
who  is  now  head  of  the  Bureau  of  Research  and 
Information  of  the  Foundation.  Congress  gives  an 
annual  appropriation  for  the  embossing  of  books  and 
many  states  have  chapters  of  Red  Cross  transcribers. 
After  provision  was  made  for  the  reeducation  of  men 
blinded  in  the  War  many  women  throughout  the 
country  took  up  the  transcribing  of  books.  Not  only 
have  the  blinded  soldiers  benefited  by  this  service,  but 
sightless  high  school  and  college  students  have  been 
helped.  Learning  to  write  braille  is  not  more  difficult, 
and  there  are  still  hundreds  of  women  who  might 
brighten  the  dark  hours  of  the  blind  by  copying 
stories  or  poems  for  them. 

There  are  among  the  blind  to-day  many  with 
intelligence  enough  to  share  the  responsibilities  and 
rewards  of  our  common  humanity.  The  worst  period 
that  most  of  them  go  through  comes  when  they 
graduate  from  school.  No  matter  what  their  hopes 
may  have  been  they  are  likely  to  see  them  fade  away. 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  229 

The  prejudice  of  the  seeing  to  whom  blindness  means 
inefficiency  is  such  that  the  blind,  confronted  with 
the  practical  problem  of  making  a  living,  turn  away 
from  competition  in  the  open  market  to  the  work- 
shop. Not  infrequently  they  escape  the  workshop 
only  to  find  themselves  street  musicians.  The  street 
life  pays  them  better,  but  those  who  follow  it  deepen 
the  public  prejudice  against  the  blind. 

To-day  no  blind  person  can  succeed  in  any  of  the 
higher  professions  unless  he  possesses  a  fighting  spirit 
and  a  personality  that  attracts  attention.  Even  then  he 
needs  a  strong  helping  hand.  I  have  known  students 
to  spend  ten  years  and  more  in  schools  for  the  blind, 
receive  a  thorough  training  in  piano,  violin,  organ, 
or  voice,  at  a  cost  to  the  state  of  thousands  of  dollars, 
and  after  leaving  school  full  of  hope  and  ambition, 
find  themselves  back  in  their  own  homes  with  their 
uneducated  families  without  a  piano,  without  money, 
without  friends,  the  institution  which  educated  them 
having  left  them  to  shift  for  themselves  as  best  they 
might.  I  am  thinking  of  one  young  man  who  was 
considered  a  virtuoso  who  is  now  earning  his  liveli- 
hood tuning  pianos.  He  cannot  play  any  more;  his 
hands  are  so  stiff  from  carrying  his  bag  of  tools. 
There  is  a  young  lady  not  far  from  my  own  home 
with  a  beautifully  trained  voice  who  earns  a  meagre 
wage  folding  circulars.  I  can  think  of  many  others 


230  MIDSTREAM 

with  various  talents  who  might  be  musicians,  writers, 
editors,  statesmen  and  ministers  if  they  had  been 
given  assistance  when  they  left  school. 

Until  the  Foundation  came  into  being  there  was 
only  one  national  organization  at  work  on  the  prob- 
lems of  the  blind.  That  was  the  National  Committee, 
which  is  now  the  National  Society  for  the  Preven- 
tion of  Blindness.  It  was,  and  still  is,  doing  one  of 
the  most  important  pieces  of  work  in  this  country.  It 
is  not  only  helping  conserve  the  sight  of  large  num- 
bers of  children  who  have  defective  vision  which,  if 
neglected,  will  develop  into  blindness,  it  is  estab- 
lishing sight  saving  classes  in  the  public  schools  and 
it  is  investigating  the  causes  of  blindness  in  industry 
and  elsewhere,  and  is  getting  laws  passed  to  lessen 
the  danger  from  preventable  causes. 

It  seems  hard  to  believe  now  that  twenty  years  ago 
the  leading  cause  of  blindness  in  the  new-born, 
ophthalmia  neonatorum,  could  not  even  be  discussed 
in  public.  Massachusetts,  as  I  have  said  in  an  earlier 
chapter,  was  one  of  the  leaders  in  this  campaign.  She 
passed  a  law  which  was  immediately  followed  in 
other  states.  The  law  required  that  every  case  of 
disease  of  the  eye  in  the  new-born  should  be  reported 
and  investigated.  The  remedy  was  provided  gra- 
tuitously, with  a  statement  from  the  highest  medical 
authorities  as  to  its  purity  and  safety.  To-day 
twenty-nine  states  have  passed  similar  laws.  I 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  231 

think  it  was  the  happiest  moment  of  my  life  when 
Mr.  Allen,  director  of  the  Massachusetts  School  for 
the  Blind,  told  me  only  a  few  months  ago  that  the 
day  nursery  for  blind  babies  which  was  once  full  of 
little  sightless  ones,  with  a  long  waiting  list,  is  now 
almost  empty.  The  work  of  prevention  is  close  to 
my  heart,  and  I  am  sorry  that  it  is  not  possible  for 
me  to  take  a  more  active  part  in  it.  I  have  been 
greatly  encouraged  by  the  interest  the  Lions  have 
shown.  In  various  places  extending  from  Black- 
well,  Oklahoma,  to  Tsing  Tao,  China,  they  have 
opened  free  clinics  for  eye  correction  among  chil- 
dren. To-day  in  New  York  and  indeed  everywhere 
thousands  of  oculists  are  spending  their  lives  to  make 
people  see  better  and  to  ward  off  blindness  in  the 
eyes  of  the  new-born.  A  great  hospital  has  just  been 
opened  in  connection  with  Johns  Hopkins  Medical 
School  in  Baltimore  under  Dr.  William  Holland 
Wilmer,  one  of  the  leading  ophthalmologists  in  the 
world,  who  has  retired  from  private  practice  in  order 
to  devote  himself  to  teaching  and  research  in  con- 
nection with  diseases  of  the  eye.  This  is  a  great  step 
in  the  right  direction. 

The  doctors  in  New  York  are  flanked  by  an  army 
of  nurses  who  teach  the  patients  how  to  carry  out  the 
doctor's  directions.  Many  of  the  patients  are  not 
only  poor ;  they  are  ignorant,  and  numbers  of  them  can 
neither  speak  nor  understand  English.  This  work  in 


232  MIDSTREAM 

the  homes  is  very  important,  very  necessary,  and  very 
costly,  but  it  is  work  that  has  to  be  done,  and  I  wish 
that  those  people  who  picture  New  York  as  a  selfish 
city  grabbing  all  things  and  making  no  return  could 
see  how  marvellously  she  handles  this  tremendous 
task. 

What  the  Foundation  proposed  to  do  was  to  cor- 
relate the  scattered  and  disorganized  work  for  the 
blind,  to  prevent  duplication  of  effort,  to  see  to  it  that 
each  class  of  the  blind  receives  the  particular  help 
it  needs,  and  to  give  direction  and  effectiveness  to 
the  local  commissions. 

When  we  started  on  the  campaign  for  the  Foun- 
dation four  years  ago  the  public  received  us  with 
open  arms.  For  three  years  we  covered  the  country 
from  coast  to  coast.  We  addressed  over  250,000 
people  at  249  meetings  in  123  cities.  Through  attend- 
ing innumerable  luncheons  and  receptions  and  pay- 
ing endless  calls  on  persons  likely  to  be  interested  in 
our  work  we  came  to  understand  what  must  be  the 
exhaustion  of  campaigning  political  candidates.  But 
we  had  an  advantage  over  the  politicians :  they  met 
divided  support  while  our  cause  appealed  to  all 
parties. 

The  wiseacres  say  that  after  forty  we  cannot 
expect  many  pleasant  surprises.  I  have  not  found 
this  true.  Some  of  the  most  joyful  surprises  I  have 
known  in  my  life  have  come  since  my  fortieth  birth- 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  133 

day,  many  of  them  in  connection  with  my  work  for  f 
the  blind.  Dr.  Henry  van  Dyke  is  one. 

When  the  time  came  to  select  a  national  chair- 
man for  our  campaign,  I  remembered  Elbert  Hub- 
bard's advice,  "When  you  want  to  get  something 
done,  go  to  the  busiest  man  you  know.  The  other  kind 
hasn't  time."  My  mind  leapt  at  once  to  Dr.  van 
Dyke.  I  knew  he  was  a  busy  man.  I  recalled  the 
things  he  had  been  doing  the  past  twenty-five  years — 
teaching  in  Princeton,  preaching  and  lecturing  about 
the  country  for  several  years,  three  years  in  the 
diplomatic  service,  a  year  in  the  navy  during  the 
World  War,  many  years  of  writing  books  that  people 
loved,  still  more  years  of  making  the  acquaintance 
of  the  great  out-of-doors,  and  bringing  up  a  family 
of  five  children  and  nine  grandchildren.  Even  if  I 
passed  over  the  hours  Dr.  van  Dyke  spent  fishing 
in  many  waters,  I  still  felt  that  he  was  the  man  to 
launch  a  new  project  and  to  see  it  through. 

I  could  not  have  picked  a  better  one.  Dr.  van 
Dyke  is  the  kind  of  a  friend  to  have  when  one 
is  up  against  a  difficult  problem.  He  will  take 
trouble,  days  and  nights  of  trouble,  if  it  is  for  some- 
body else  or  for  some  cause  he  is  interested  in.  "I'm 
not  an  optimist,"  says  Dr.  van  Dyke,  "there's  too 
much  evil  in  the  world  and  in  me.  Nor  am  I  a  pessi- 
mist; there  is  too  much  good  in  the  world  and  in 
God.  So  I  am  just  a  meliorist,  believing  that  He  wills 


/ 

234  MIDSTREAM 

to  make  the  world  better,  and  trying  to  do  my  bit  to 
help  and  wishing  that  it  were  more." 

The  generosity  and  enthusiasm  of  Mr.  Otto  Kahn 
was  a  great  help  to  us  in  the  beginning.  The  far- 
reaching  beams  of  his  benevolence  have  illuminated 
the  world  of  the  dark  not  only  in  this  country  but  in 
England  as  well. 

Throughout  the  country  newspapers  opened  their 
pages  to  us.  Churches,  schools,  synagogues,  women's 
clubs,  the  Junior  Leagues,  the  Boy  and  Girl  Scouts 
and  the  service  clubs,  especially  the  Lions,  have  as- 
sisted us  in  every  way,  holding  meetings,  soliciting 
funds,  giving  luncheons,  and  making  contributions. 
The  Lions,  in  particular,  have  made  the  work  for  the 
blind  their  major  activity,  just  as  the  Rotarians  have 
made  crippled  children  their  special  charge. 

Nearly  everywhere  we  met  with  a  spirit  of  coop- 
eration that  made  our  hearts  glad.  In  the  winter  of 
1926  I  spent  a  week  in  Washington.  Dr.  van  Dyke 
came  from  Princeton  to  assist  me,  and  our  hopes  were 
high  when  we  knew  that  the  cause  of  the  blind  was 
to  be  heard  in  the  First  City  of  the  land.  It  was 
there  that  the  National  Library  for  the  Blind  was 
established,  and  an  annual  appropriation  granted  for 
embossing  books;  there,  too,  that  the  work  of  re- 
habilitating our  blinded  soldiers  had  begun.  Our 
hopes  were  not  disappointed. 

One  morning  at  twelve  o'clock  n\y  teacher  and  I 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  235 

called  upon  President  Coolidge  at  the  White  House. 
He  received  us  most  kindly.  I  had  always  heard  that 
he  was  cold,  but  there  was  not  the  least  coldness  in 
his  hand.  He  had  only  a  few  minutes  to  spare  from  a 
strenuous  day,  but  he  listened  attentively  to  what  I 
told  him  about  the  Foundation,  then,  placing  my 
fingers  on  his  lips,  he  said,  "I  am  greatly  interested 
in  your  work,  and  I  will  cooperate  with  you  in  every 
possible  way." 

He  proved  he  was  sincere  by  becoming  our  Hon- 
orary President,  and  by  sending  me  his  private  check 
for  a  generous  donation.  I  found  in  Mrs.  Coolidge 
one  whose  heart  is  responsive  to  every  whisper  of  sor- 
row. She  told  me  she  had  always  been  interested  in 
the  deaf— she  had  taught  the  deaf  at  Northampton 
many  years  ago — and  added  that  she  would  be  happy 
to  help  brighten  the  dark  world  of  the  sightless. 

I  also  called  up  Senator  Borah,  Thomas  Schall 
(the  blind  Senator),  and  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lansing. 
They  all  did  what  they  could  to  make  my  visit  to 
Washington  a  success.  Many  other  people  in  Wash- 
ington helped  with  money  and  sympathy,  among 
them  Mr.  Gilbert  Grosvenor  and  his  wife,  Elsie, 
Dr.  Bell's  daughter,  my  playmate  of  long  ago,  Phil 
and  Lenore  Smith,  Mrs.  Frederic  Hicks,  the  Ger- 
man Ambassador,  Herr  von  Maltzan,  and  Mrs. 
Wadsworth,  the  daughter  of  John  Hay.  Mrs.  Wads- 
worth  gave  a  beautiful  tea  in  her  home,  and  her  kind- 


236  MIDSTREAM 

ness  will  ever  be  a  part  of  my  most  affectionate 
memories  of  Washington. 

In  Detroit  my  friend  of  many  years  in  the  work 
for  the  sightless,  Mr.  Charles  F.  F.  Campbell,  di- 
rector of  the  Detroit  League  for  the  Handicapped, 
was  indefatigable  in  his  efforts  to  capture  that  city 
for  my  cause.  One  night  at  a  mass  meeting  sponsored 
by  the  Junior  League  we  raised  forty-two  thousand 
dollars  before  we  left  the  auditorium.  Nor  did  the 
interest  of  Detroit  stop  after  my  departure.  Only 
within  the  last  few  days  I  have  received  checks  rang- 
ing from  one  dollar  to  fifty-five  hundred  dollars. 
Among  those  who  have  made  Detroit  the  banner  city 
of  my  crusade  are  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Henry  Joy,  Mrs. 
Seyburn,  Mr.  Warren,  Mr.  W.  O.  Briggs,  the  six 
Fisher  brothers,  and  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Edsel  Ford. 

Next  to  this  meeting  in  Detroit  comes  one  which 
we  held  in  Philadelphia.  It  was  the  second  meeting 
of  the  campaign,  when  very  little  was  known  of  the 
Foundation  and  its  purposes.  Mr.  Edward  Bok  pre- 
sided, and  Dr.  van  Dyke  poured  a  flood  of  golden 
words  into  the  responsive  hearts  of  the  people.  We 
raised  twenty-two  thousand  dollars  that  Sunday 
afternoon. 

In  two  large  cities,  St.  Louis  and  Chicago,  workers 
for  the  sightless  requested  me  not  to  speak,  and  we 
have  respected  their  wishes.  Only  one  city  invited 
us  and  then  gave  us  the  cold  shoulder.  For  some 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  237 

reason  I  am  unable  fully  to  understand  Buffalo  re- 
fused to  be  interested  in  the  national  aspect  of  the 
work  for  the  blind.  When  I  arrived  at  the  auditorium 
where  the  meeting  was  to  take  place,  and  found  only 
about  twenty  persons  present,  I  thought  there  must 
have  been  a  mistake  in  the  date  given  out;  but  alas! 
there  was  not  even  that  salve  for  my  bruised  feelings. 
The  people  were  simply  not  interested.  In  five  days 
I  collected  only  about  three  thousand  dollars,  while 
in  Rochester,  which  has  about  half  the  population  of 
Buffalo,  more  than  fifteen  thousand  dollars  was  given 
in  less  time.  No  doubt  part  of  my  success  was  due 
to  the  enthusiasm  and  generosity  of  Mrs.  Edmund 
Lyon  whom  I  had  first  met  many  years  before,  when 
my  teacher  and  Dr.  Bell  and  I  visited  the  Rochester 
School  for  the  Deaf  where  she  was  teaching.  Two 
other  friends  in  Rochester  whom  I  remember  with 
gratitude  are  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Harper  Sibley  who  held 
up  the  work  for  the  blind  with  both  hands. 

I  had  thought  that  the  stars  in  filmland  might  be 
especially  sensitive  to  our  appeal,  since  the  breath 
and  substance  of  their  life  was  light,  but  I  found 
that  I  was  mistaken.  I  wrote  letter  after  letter  which 
I  left  at  the  studios,  but  never  an  answer  did  I  re- 
ceive, except  from  Mary  Pickford.  The  silence  that 
came  back  penetrated  even  my  deaf  ears.  Naturally 
my  heart  thrilled  at  the  responsiveness  of  Mary 
Pickford  and  her  husband,  Douglas  Fairbanks. 


238  MIDSTREAM 

I  had,  of  course,  known  Mary  Pickford  as  a  child 
knows  the  characters  of  fairyland.  I  did  not  think  this 
shadow  acquaintance  would  ever  become  a  reality, 
but  fairy  tales  do  sometimes  come  true  and  I  have  a 
bright  memory  of  the  day  when  the  shadow  Mary 
was  transformed  into  a  smiling  little  girl  wearing 
a  faded  gingham  frock  and  patched  shoes  and  two 
long  braids  of  golden  hair.  She  had  invited  us  to  the 
studio  grounds  for  lunch.  She  rushed  out  of  a  tiny 
cottage  to  greet  us.  I  was  accompanied  by  Mrs. 
Macy,  Miss  Thomson,  and  Mr.  Charles  Hayes  of 
the  American  Foundation  staff.  She  said  that  Mr. 
Fairbanks  would  be  in  soon,  but  we  would  not  wait 
for  him.  "When  we  are  working,"  she  said,  "we  can't 
be  regular  about  anything.  That  is  why  we  live  here 
most  of  the  time  when  we  are  making  pictures."  She 
was  working  on  "Little  Annie  Rooney"  at  the  time, 
and  Mr.  Fairbanks  was  just  finishing  "Don  Q." 
While  we  were  eating  lunch,  I  told  Mary  (I  simply 
cannot  call  that  slip  of  a  girl  in  faded  gingham  and 
patched  shoes  Mrs.  Fairbanks)  the  object  of  my 
visit  to  California.  She  listened  intently  and  made 
intelligent  comments  while  I  talked.  She  said  that 
before  she  became  a  motion  picture  actress,  she  had 
been  on  the  stage,  and  in  her  first  play  had  taken  the 
part  of  a  blind  girl.  She  said  that  it  had  been  in 
her  mind  a  long  time  to  make  a  picture  with  a  young 
blind  girl  the  central  figure.  She  gave  an  attractive 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  239 

sketch  of  the  story  and  asked  me  if  I  would  offer  sug- 
gestions when  the  time  came.  I  promised  to  come  out 
to  Hollywood  and  see  to  it  that  her  blind  girl  did 
none  of  the  absurd,  impossible  things  which  the 
sightless  are  usually  made  to  do  on  the  stage. 

Douglas  Fairbanks  came  in,  just  as  we  finished 
lunch,  with  his  director,  Donald  Crisp.  Mr.  Fair- 
banks was  limping  slightly,  as  he  had  sprained  his 
ankle  in  one  of  the  episodes  in  the  picture,  and  there 
was  a  long  gash  on  Mr.  Crisp's  face  where  Don  Q 
had  cut  him  with  a  whip.  Mary  told  him  what  we 
had  been  talking  about  and  said  that  she  wanted  to 
give  a  percentage  of  the  proceeds  of  the  picture  to 
the  blind.  He  replied,  'That's  splendid,  Mary,"  but 
the  picture  has  not  yet  been  made.  I  believe  there 
was  some  difficulty  about  the  plot  she  had  in  mind 
then,  but  I  still  hope  that  she  will  carry  out  her 
beautiful  plan. 

We  spent  the  afternoon  watching  Mary  work.  She 
seated  me  within  the  "location,"  so  that  I  could  feel 
her  and  her  hoodlum  gang  running  past,  and  sense 
their  yells  and  the  commotion  when  the  two  hostile 
gangs  encountered  each  other.  Several  times  a  scene 
had  to  be  repeated  because  the  boys  were  so  interested 
in  seeing  Mrs.  Macy  spell  to  me  that  they  fumbled. 
When  we  said  good-bye  I  realized  with  new  poign- 
ancy how  good  Mary  was  to  see  me  when  she  was 
working  on  a  picture.  I  carried  away  in  my  heart 


HO  MiDStREAM 

an  image  of  a  little  body  tense  with  exertion,  a  sweet, 
warm  face,  and  the  touch  of  hot,  dirty  little  hands 
that  were  full  of  good  will. 

One  of  the  pleasantest  contacts  that  I  made  on  this 
trip  was  with  Carrie  Jacobs  Bond.  We  dined  with 
her  delightfully,  and  afterwards,  in  the  drawing 
room,  she  sang  her  poems  which  she  had  set  to  music. 
The  songs  were  so  sweet  and  intimate  one  felt  that 
if  one  could  sit  there  a  while  longer  one  could  sing 
the  songs  oneself. 

It  was  on  this  trip  also  that  I  visited  Luther  Bur- 
bank's  experimental  gardens  in  Santa  Rosa  and  saw 
plants  and  fruits  and  flowers  that  never  were  found 
on  earth  before.  The  man  who  guided  me  had 
created  these  miracles.  Very  gently  he  put  my  hand 
on  the  desert  cactus  which  no  living  creature  could 
touch  without  pain.  Beside  it  he  showed  me  the 
thornless  cactus  he  had  made  from  it — smooth  and 
pleasant  and  good  to  eat. 

It  is  not  only  because  of  my  charming  visits  with 
them  that  I  treasure  the  memory  of  these  friends,  but 
also  because  of  the  warmth  of  their  interest  in  the 
blind.  Another  friend  who  was  zealous  for  the 
work  in  Southern  California  was  Dr.  John  Willis 
Baer  of  Pasadena.  He  is  a  yea-sayer,  and  his  lips 
were  touched  with  fire  when  he  pleaded  the  cause  of 
America's  hundred  thousand  blind. 

For  two  years  now  I  have  not  been  able  to  continue 


LUX  IN  TENEBRIS  241 

my  lectures  for  the  campaign  owing  to  the  necessity 
of  keeping  a  promise  of  some  years  standing  by  writ- 
ing this  book,  but  I  have  written  many  letters,  and 
when  the  book  is  finished  I  shall  go  on  the  road  again. 
We  have  still  a  million  and  a  half  dollars  to  raise. 

Nothing  has  made  me  happier  during  these  two 
years  than  the  way  the  gifts  have  kept  coming  in. 
Last  year  Mr.  John  D.  Rockefeller,  Jr.,  who  has 
made  of  his  millions  a  weapon  to  shake  ignorance 
out  of  its  citadel,  contributed  fifty  thousand  dollars. 
A  few  days  ago  he  added  an  equal  amount  to  his 
original  donation.  Mr.  M.  C.  Migel,  without  whom 
the  Foundation  could  scarcely  have  lived  through 
those  first  hard  years,  has  made  a  further  contribu- 
tion of  fifty  thousand  dollars.  Mr.  Felix  Warburg 
has  given  fifty  thousand,  and  Mr.  William  Ziegler, 
the  son  of  the  Mrs.  Ziegler  who  founded  the 
Matilda  Ziegler  Magazine  for  the  Blind,  gave  ten 
thousand.  Mr.  Samuel  Mather  of  Cleveland,  Harry 
Goldman,  Mrs.  Felix  Fuld  of  Newark,  and  the 
Nathan  Hofheimer  foundation  have  given  five 
thousand  each.  Mr.  Graselli,  who  established  a  home 
for  the  adult  blind  in  Cleveland,  put  his  generous 
donation  into  my  hand  with  such  sv^eet  trepidation 
that  it  seemed  as  if  he,  not  I,  was  the  beggar  at  the 
gate.  It  is  with  an  especially  grateful  heart  that  I 
write  the  name  of  Mrs.  Fuld.  Her  kindness  to  me 
personally  is  a  lovely  thing  in  my  life.  The  contribu- 


242  MIDSTREAM 

tions  have  become  so  numerous  as  to  make  it  impos- 
sible to  mention  each  by  name.  While  I  am  praising 
the  large  givers  my  heart  is  remembering  those 
whose  names  cannot  be  written  for  multitude, 
yet  the  fund  has  been  built  up  of  their  mites, 
and  the  work  of  the  Foundation  has  been  made 
possible  by  their  generosity.  As  Miss  Thomson  opens 
the  mail  checks  tumble  out  of  envelopes  from  school 
children  and  Sunday  school  classes,  from  Germans 
and  Chinese  and  Japanese,  from  old  soldiers,  from 
the  deaf  and  the  blind.  This  morning's  mail  brought 
a  donation  of  five  thousand  dollars  from  a  group  in 
Detroit,  and  another  of  one  dollar  from  a  poor  work- 
ing girl. 

The  way  children  have  responded  has  been  very 
touching.  They  bring  their  little  banks  and  empty 
them  into  my  lap  and  they  write  dear  letters  offer- 
ing the  money  given  them  for  soda  water  and  candy. 
At  a  meeting  in  Endicott,  N.  Y.,  a  fifteen-year-old 
boy  who  was  an  invalid,  Bradford  Lord,  sent  me  a 
wonderful  bouquet  of  roses  and  a  contribution  of  five 
hundred  dollars  towards  the  Endowment  Fund.  The 
roses  have  withered  long  ago,  and  the  young  heart 
that  stirred  to  that  fine  impulse  has  ceased  to  beat, 
but  the  lovely  deed  will  blossom  forever  in  the  gar- 
den of  my  soul. 


Chapter  XVI 


MUTED  STRINGS 

It  is  seldom  now  that  I  think  of  my  deprivations, 
and  they  never  sadden  me  as  they  once  did  when  I 
had  bitter  moments  of  rebellion  because  I  must  sit 
at  life's  shut  gate  and  fight  down  the  passionate  im- 
pulses of  my  nature.  I  know  that  a  great  many  people 
pity  me  because  I  can  show  so  little  visible  proof  of 
living.  They  are  often  supercilious  and  sometimes 
contemptuous  of  the  "poor  thing"  who  is  so  shut  out 
from  everything  they  know.  Meeting  me  in  one  of 
the  noisy  arenas  of  commerce  they  are  as  startled  as  if 
they  had  encountered  a  ghost  on  Broadway.  At  such 
times  I  smile  inwardly  and  gather  my  dreams  about 
me.  My  reason  for  living  would  be  lost  if  the  reality 
they  think  they  see  did  not  hide  her  cruel  face  from 
me  under  a  veil  of  pleasant  illusions — if  they  are 
illusions.  One  will  not  quarrel  over  definitions  if  one 
has  the  substance,  and  I  feel  that,  since  I  have  found 
existence  rich  in  happiness  and  interest,  I  have  the 
substance. 

It  would  be  wonderful  to  find  myself  free  from 
even  a  small  part  of  my  physical  limitations.  It  would 
be  wonderful  to  walk  around  town  alone  with  the 

243 


244  MIDSTREAM 

key  of  the  house  in  my  bag  to  let  myself  in  and  out, 
to  come  and  go  without  a  word  to  anyone,  to  read 
the  newspapers  without  waiting,  and  pick  out  a 
pretty  handkerchief  or  a  becoming  hat  in  the  shops. 

Oh,  the  weariness  of  sitting  hours  upon  hours  in 
the  same  attitude  as  I  have  to  do  sometimes,  not  dar- 
ing to  look  around  or  move  an  arm  lest  I  be  stared  at 
or  my  uncertain  movements  misconstrued!  I  cannot 
see  people  staring  at  me;  but  I  am  always  accom- 
panied by  persons  who  can  see,  and  it  is  embarrassing 
to  them.  I  am  told  that  in  the  Orient  people  avert 
their  eyes  when  a  blind  man  passes,  and  the  Arabs 
cover  their  eyes  with  their  hands  when  they  enter  his 
dwelling.  I  wish  this  sensibility  were  more  prevalent 
here.  I  understand  perfectly  the  state  of  mind  which 
caused  Lafcadio  Hearn  to  go  to  Japan,  where  the 
people  were  too  courteous  to  notice  his  ungainly 
appearance. 

I  seem  now  to  be  complaining,  but  sitting  here  in 
my  study,  surrounded  by  my  books,  enjoying  the 
intimate  companionship  of  the  great  and  the  wise,  I 
sometimes  try  to  realize  what  my  life  might  have 
been  if  Dr.  Samuel  Gridley  Howe  had  not  had  the 
imagination  to  realize  that  the  immortal  spirit  of 
Laura  Bridgman  had  not  died  when  her  physical 
senses  were  sealed  up.  When  Dr.  Howe  began  her 
education  those  afflicted  as  I  am  with  blindness  and 
deafness  were  referred  to  in  legal  treatises  as  idiots. 


MUTED  STRINGS  245 

Dr.  Howe  frequently  quoted  from  Blackstone's 
Commentaries  the  following  passage: 

A  man  is  not  an  idiot,  if  he  hath  any  glimmerings  of  reason 
so  he  can  tell  his  parents,  his  age,  or  the  like  matters.  But  a  man 
who  is  born  deaf,  dumb,  and  blind  is  looked  upon  by  the  law  as 
in  the  same  state  with  an  idiot;  he  being  supposed  incapable  of 
any  understanding,  as  wanting  all  those  senses  which  furnish  the 
mind  with  ideas. 

I  remember  Laura  very  well.  My  interest  in  her 
began  almost  with  my  first  word.  My  teacher  knew 
her  intimately.  She  had  lived  in  the  same  cottage 
with  her  at  the  Perkins  Institution;  and  it  was  Laura 
who  taught  her  the  manual  alphabet.  Miss  Sullivan 
has  told  me  how  excited  Laura  was  when  she  learned 
that  her  friend  was  going  to  Alabama  to  teach  a  blind 
deaf  child.  She  had  much  advice  to  give  as  to  my 
training.  She  admonished  Miss  Sullivan  not  to  spoil 
me  by  letting  me  become  disobedient.  She  made  the 
clothes  for  a  doll  which  the  blind  girls  at  the  Insti- 
tution sent  me,  and  this  doll  was  the  object  selected 
for  my  first  word.  She  wrote  to  Miss  Sullivan  fre- 
quently in  the  early  days  of  my  education. 

Laura  was  one  of  the  first  persons  whom  Miss 
Sullivan  took  me  to  see  when  I  visited  the  Institution. 
We  found  her  sitting  by  the  window  in  her  room 
crocheting  lace.  She  recognized  my  teacher's  hand 
instantly,  and  seemed  very  glad  to  see  her.  She  kissed 


246  MIDSTREAM 
me  kindly;  but  when  I  tried  to  examine  the  lace,  she 
instinctively  put  it  out  of  my  reach,  spelling  rather 
emphatically,  "I'm  afraid  your  hands  are  not  clean." 
Her  hands  were  beautiful,  finely  formed,  delicate, 
and  expressive.  I  wanted  to  feel  her  face;,  but  she 
shrank  away  like  a  mimosa  blossom  from  my  peering 
fingers,  for  the  same  reason,  no  doubt,  that  she  would 
not  let  me  touch  the  lace.  Laura  was  extremely  dainty 
in  all  her  ways,  and  exquisitely  neat.  My  strong,  im- 
pulsive movements  disturbed  her  greatly.  She  said 
to  Miss  Sullivan,  "You  have  not  taught  her  to  be 
very  gentle."  To  me  she  said,  emphasizing  each 
letter,  "You  must  not  be  forward  when  calling  on  a 
lady."  After  that  I  decided  to  sit  on  the  floor;  but 
Laura  jerked  me  up  and  spelled,  "You  must  not  sit 
on  the  floor  when  you  have  on  a  clean  dress.  You  will 
muss  it.  You  must  remember  many  things  when  you 
understand  them." 

In  my  eagerness  to  kiss  her  good-bye  I  trod  on  her 
toes,  which  greatly  annoyed  her,  and  made  me  feel 
like  the  bad  little  girl  of  the  Sunday  school  books. 

Later  she  told  Miss  Sullivan  I  was  "vivacious,  but 
not  blunt."  To  me  she  seemed  like  a  statue  I  had  once 
felt  in  a  garden,  she  was  so  motionless,  and  her  hands 
were  so  cool,  like  flowers  that  have  grown  in  shady 
places. 

My  experience  and  Laura's  were  so  closely  paral- 
lel in  their  outward  aspects  that  we  have  often  been 


MUTED  STRINGS  247 

compared.  We  were  about  the  same  age  when  we  lost 
our  sight  and  hearing.  We  were  aHke  in  that  ahhough 
our  parents  and  friends  were  exceedingly  kind  to  us 
we  both  grew  restless,  willful,  and  destructive  be- 
cause we  had  no  adequate  means  of  expressing  our 
desires.  It  was  when  Laura  was  about  seven  years 
old  that  Dr.  Howe  came  to  her  rescue.  He  says  that 
he  found  her  a  well-formed  child  with  a  nervous, 
sanguine  temperament,  a  large  and  beautifully 
shaped  head,  healthy  and  active.  In  her  letters  Miss 
Sullivan  describes  me  in  almost  these  same  words; 
oddly  enough  we  both  had  blue  eyes  and  light  brown 
hair.  And  I,  too,  was  seven  years  old  when  my 
education  began. 

Here  the  resemblance  ends.  We  were  educated  in 
a  different  manner.  This  is  a  subject  into  which  I 
should  like  to  enter  more  fully,  but  obviously  I  am 
not  the  person  to  compare  the  methods  of  my  own 
education  with  those  employed  in  teaching  Laura 
Bridgman  and  other  deaf-blind  children;  I  leave  the 
task  to  those  who  are  more  detached.  From  what  I 
have  read  of  Laura  I  am  sure  that  she  was  bright  and 
eager,  and  I  believe  that  if  she  had  had  my  teacher 
she  would  have  outshone  me. 

Of  all  the  blind-deaf  people  I  have  known  the  one 
closest  to  me  in  temperament  and  sympathy  of  ideas 
is  Madame  Berthe  Galeron,  a  French  woman  with 
whom  I  have  corresponded  for  over  twenty  years. 


248  MIDSTREAM 

We  both  find  our  chief  delight  and  freedom  in  books. 
We  both  feel  the  impediment  of  deafness  far  more 
keenly  than  that  of  blindness.  Both  our  lives  have 
been  made  beautiful  with  affection  and  friendship. 
As  my  teacher  is  ever  by  my  side,  making  the  way 
straight  before  me,  so  has  Monsieur  Galeron  watched 
over  his  wife  for  thirty  years,  guarding  her  against 
every  hardship.  On  the  other  hand  Madame  Galeron 
has  always  been  content  to  dream  and  sing  while  I 
have  ever  been  impatient  for  the  utmost  activity  I 
could  compass. 

Madame  Galeron  lost  her  sight  completely  when 
she  was  ten  years  old,  and  her  hearing  partially  a  few 
weeks  later.  At  first  this  deafness  was  not  serious; 
for  with  a  little  effort  she  could  still  understand  what 
was  said  to  her,  and  enjoy  music.  She  was  educated 
with  care  and  devotion  by  her  father,  a  dis- 
tinguished French  professor,  who  fostered  her  taste 
for  literary  work.  She  wrote  several  plays,  two  of 
which  were  acted  in  Paris.  During  the  years  that 
followed  she  wrote  the  book  of  poems,  Dans  Ma 
Nuit,  by  which  she  is  best  known.  Among  her  father's 
friends  were  great  men  in  whose  intellectual  talk  she 
delighted.  One  of  them,  Victor  Hugo,  addressed  a 
poem  to  her  in  which  he  called  her  "La  grande 
Voyante."  And  truly;  for  with  her  wonderful  powers 
of  imagination  and  memory  she  penetrated  deeply 
into  the  intimacies  of  life. 


MUTED  STRINGS  249 

It  was  when  her  hearing  finally  failed  that  she 
tasted  the  real  bitterness  of  affliction. 

She  and  her  husband  had  been  out  for  a  little  while, 
and  on  their  return  they  sat  down  to  read  together. 
She  has  told  me  in  her  letters  how  she  used  to  love  his 
voice.  'When  he  read  to  me,"  she  says,  ''we  were 
most  completely  together,  and  our  spirits  met  in 
exquisite  feeling."  But  when  they  settled  down  on 
this  fateful  day  to  enjoy  Pierre  Loti's  Au  Maroc, 
something  strange  happened.  M.  Galeron  had  hardly 
begun  to  speak  when  she  experienced  a  buzzing  in 
her  ear.  The  syllables  kept  repeating  themselves  and 
clashing  like  discordant  echoes.  After  a  few  minutes 
she  was  obliged  to  give  up  in  despair.  In  a  day  or 
two  she  could  hear  neither  voices  nor  noises  of  any 
kind.  Her  ear  died,  as  she  expressed  it,  and  for  the 
first  time  she  was  quite  shut  out  from  the  music  and 
the  brilliant  intercourse  she  so  passionately  loved. 

Fortunately,  Monsieur  Galeron  knew  the  braille 
system,  and  from  that  time  he  and  the  writing  frame 
were  inseparable.  He  wrote  everything  he  could  to 
amuse,  comfort,  and  encourage  her.  At  the  end  of 
each  day  she  waited  for  his  return  from  work  as  the 
shipwrecked  wait  for  aid,  and  his  wonderful  affec- 
ition  always  roused  her  out  of  her  nightmare.  Madame 
Galeron  declares  that  no  one  can  ever  imagine  their 
efforts  to  prevent  the  cruel  barriers  of  silence  from 
separating  them  until  they  read  in  The  Story  of  My 


250  MIDSTREAM 

Life  that  I  could  read  the  lips.  This  was  the  begin- 
ning of  our  friendship.  Madame  Galeron  asked  me 
many  questions  about  this  means  of  communication. 
The  first  time  she  tried  it  she  was  able  to  read  from 
the  lips  of  a  friend  a  sonnet  of  Heredia.  In  a  letter 
full  of  delight  she  wrote  to  me,  "What  joy  this  suc- 
cess brought  me.  I  was  saved  1  Now  I  know  I  shall 
always  enjoy  sweet  communion  with  my  loved  ones." 

I  have  received  a  letter  from  Mme.  Galeron  to- 
day with  a  copy  of  her  poems  in  braille.  These  poems 
offer  to  posterity  a  precious  example  of  courage  and 
sweetness.  I  think  that  perhaps  when  the  generals 
and  statesmen  of  France  are  forgotten  the  poems  will 
remain  a  testimony  to  the  energy  of  a  spirit  uncon- 
quered  by  the  disaster  which  overwhelmed  its  out- 
ward life. 

I  saw  more  of  Theodocia  Pearce  than  of  any  other 
deaf-blind  person.  She  was  a  sweet  girl  from  Brant- 
ford,  Canada,  with  whom  fate  had  dealt  cruelly. 
Besides  losing  her  sight  and  hearing  at  the  age  of 
twelve,  she  suffered  from  spinal  curvature  and  had 
to  be  strapped  to  her  bed  for  three  years.  For  several 
years  she  wrote  me  letters  in  the  form  of  dainty 
poems.  Then  she  came  to  New  York,  urged,  she  said, 
by  a  tameless  desire  for  adventure.  Four  years  later 
she  died,  worn  out  by  her  fight  against  forces  she  had 
not  the  physical  strength  to  resist.  She  wrote  a  book  of 


MUTED  STRINGS  251 

poems  which  she  called,  Lights  from  Little  Lanterns, 
which  she  dedicated  to  me. 

Helen  Schulz  is  another  deaf-blind  girl  who 
proves  that  the  spirit  can  sing  in  spite  of  limitations. 
She  was  adopted  fourteen  years  ago  by  Miss  Lydia 
Hayes,  a  blind  woman  who  is  the  head  of  the  New 
Jersey  Commission  for  the  Blind.  Miss  Hayes  has 
often  told  me,  her  fingers  a-tremble  with  emotion, 
that  when  she  saw  Miss  Sullivan's  beautiful  work 
with  me,  she  resolved  that  she,  too,  would  bring  the 
light  of  joy  into  the  life  of  a  deaf-blind  child.  It  is  a 
touching  story  how  under  her  loving  care  the  wistful 
lonely  child  has  grown  into  a  happy  young  woman.  A 
similar  case  is  that  of  Helen  Martin  who,  though  she 
has  not  heard  a  sound  or  seen  the  light  since  her 
childhood,  plays  the  piano.  Those  who  go  to  her  con- 
certs express  surprise  at  her  delicacy  of  touch.  It  was 
through  Miss  Rebecca  Mack,  my  friend  whom  I  call 
the  champion  of  the  deaf-blind,  that  a  fund  was 
raised  which  gave  her  freedom  to  develop  her 
musical  talent. 

There  used  to  be  at  the  Nebraska  School  for  the 
Blind  a  merry  girl  of  thirteen  who  wrote  me  letters 
so  full  of  delight  in  her  studies  that  I  could  feel  the 
mischievous,  joyous  spirit  laughing  out  of  her  dotted 
pages.  She  said  she  was  so  busy  learning  new  things 
every  day  that  she  had  no  time  to  think  of  her  mis- 


252  MIDSTREAM 

fortunes.  When  I  met  her  a  few  years  ago  during 
my  visit  to  Detroit  in  behalf  of  the  blind  I  found  that 
she  had  married  a  man  who  worked  at  the  Ford 
plant.  She  told  me  how  cleverly  he  had  contrived  to 
make  ''the  dearest  little  home  you  can  imagine — a 
home  I  keep  myself."  She  threw  up  her  little  hand 
eagerly  and  hurried  on,  "That  isn't  all.  I  have  a 
beautiful,  healthy  darling  boy,  seven  years  old.  I 
have  everything  any  woman  can  want!  There's  no 
incompleteness  in  my  life!" 

Another  interesting  blind-deaf  woman  is  Katie 
McGirr,  who  for  a  number  of  years  earned  a  living 
for  herself  and  her  mother  at  the  office  of  the  Matilda 
Ziegler  Magazine  for  the  Blind.  She  read  the  proofs 
of  the  magazine  each  month  as  they  came  off  the 
press,  and  she  copied  on  the  typewriter  the  hundreds 
of  letters  which  Mr.  Holmes,  the  editor,  received  in 
dotted  type,  and  which  he  could  not  read  himself. 
Since  he  did  not  know  the  manual  alphabet  he  used 
to  communicate  with  her  by  writing  script  in  her 
hand  or  on  her  arm  or  back.  I  am  happy  to  say  that 
Katie  now  has  a  small  pension  from  the  state  of 
New  York. 

Every  now  and  then  I  have  had  the  pleasure  of 
meeting  again  Tommy  Stringer,  whom  I  first  knew 
when  we  were  both  children.  The  last  time  was  when 
a  vaudeville  engagement  took  me  to  Syracuse,  New 
York,  where  he  lives  with  some  friends.  He  told  me 


MUTED  STRINGS  253 

proudly  that  he  made  crates  and  lettuce  frames  for  a 
living,  and  he  described  his  room  full  of  tools  and 
things  he  tried  to  invent  ''out  of  his  own  head."  As 
he  spelled  into  my  hand,  I  remembered  the  little  boy 
v^ho  once  lay  in  a  hospital  bereft  of  light,  neglected 
by  his  family,  no  one  near  to  love  him,  and  I  v^as 
more  glad  than  ever  that  my  teacher  and  I  had  per- 
suaded Mr.  Anagnos  to  let  Tommy  come  to  the 
Kindergarten  for  the  Blind. 

I  could  go  on  writing  page  after  page  about  the 
deaf-blind.  Naturally  this  class  of  the  handicapped 
appeals  to  me  more  strongly  than  any  other.  It  dis- 
tresses me  to  think  that  though  forty  years  have 
passed  since  I  was  restored  to  my  human  heritage, 
the  question  of  providing  for  those  who  dwell  forever 
in  silence  and  darkness  remains  unsettled  to  this  day. 

Many  problems  present  themselves.  One  of  the 
greatest  needs  is  of  a  census  of  the  blind-deaf  in  the 
United  States.  Rebecca  Mack  has  for  the  past  two 
years  been  engaged  in  making  such  a  census.  Thus 
far  she  has  three  hundred  and  seventy-nine  names. 
Father  Stadelman  thinks  there  may  be  as  many  as 
two  thousand,  including  the  old  and  infirm.  Fifteen 
of  those  whose  names  Miss  Mack  has  are  of  school 
age  and  should  be  taught. 

I  have  often  been  asked  for  suggestions  as  to  the 
best  way  of  caring  for  such  children.  They  are  widely 
scattered  over  the  country.  Very  few  of  the  parent? 


254  MIDSTREAM 

are  able  to  afford  a  private  teacher,  and  even  those 
who  can  have  difficulty  in  finding  one  who  is  willing 
to  go  to  the  place  where  the  child  lives.  It  is  too  much 
to  ask  the  teachers  in  either  the  schools  for  the  blind 
or  for  the  deaf  to  look  after  these  doubly  unfortunate 
ones.  Such  an  arrangement  does  not  do  justice  either 
to  the  teacher  or  the  pupil.  Moreover,  the  problem 
is  not  for  the  average  teacher,  but  for  the  one 
who  has  special  training,  ability,  and  imagination. 
Each  deaf-blind  child  is  different  from  every  other, 
and  should,  therefore,  receive  individual  attention. 

I  have  never  favoured  a  special  school  for  these 
children,  but  perhaps  in  the  end  it  will  be  the  wisest 
way  to  help  them.  I  would  rather  see  each  state  make 
a  special  appropriation  for  each  child,  and  place  him 
in  the  state  school  for  the  blind  with  a  special  teacher. 
In  this  way  the  child  will  have  the  companionship 
of  other  children,  and  will  be  much  nearer  to  his  own 
home  than  he  would  be  if  a  national  school  was 
established.  I  say  a  school  for  the  blind  rather  than 
for  the  deaf  because  the  blind  have  a  better  command 
of  language.  It  has  been  the  experience  of  the  Perkins 
Institution  that  blind  children  are  quick  to  learn  the 
manual  alphabet  and  talk  to  those  who  cannot  see 
and  hear. 

The  importance  of  the  early  education  of  the  blind- 
deaf  cannot  be  over-emphasized.  It  was  most  fortu- 
nate for  Madame  Galeron,  for  instance,  that  she  had 


MUTED  STRINGS  255 

acquired  the  use  of  language  before  her  affliction 
came.  It  was  also  fortunate  that  there  was  no  gap  in 
her  education.  If  the  education  of  one  who  has  seen 
and  heard  is  begun  as  soon  as  deafness  and  blindness 
come,  a  large  number  of  sense  impressions  may  be 
retained.  If  the  child  has  learned  to  speak  the  voice 
may  be  preserved.  In  cases  where  instruction  is  de- 
ferred too  long,  the  blind-deaf  lose  initiative  and 
desire  to  learn. 

Very  few  of  them  are  especially  gifted.  The 
causes  of  their  affliction  have  often  affected  their 
minds  adversely,  but  not  always.  And,  from  what  I 
know  of  tests  which  have  been  conducted  among 
them,  I  think  their  sensory  equipment  is  in  no  way 
remarkable.  Mine  is  certainly  not. 

All  my  life  I  have  been  the  subject  of  tests.  People 
in  the  possession  of  their  physical  faculties  seem  to 
have  a  great  curiosity  to  find  out  how  those  who  lack 
one  or  more  senses  inform  themselves  of  their  sur- 
roundings. 

The  playmates  of  a  blind  child  love  to  test  his 
ability  to  locate  them,  to  orientate  himself  in  a 
strange  place  and  to  distinguish  objects  which  they 
put  into  his  hands.  Children,  as  a  rule,  are  very 
matter-of-fact  in  their  observations.  They  have  not 
the  inclination,  so  strong  in  adults,  to  exaggerate. 
They  quite  frankly  announce  that  the  blind  child 
didn't  hear  them  when  they  tiptoed  quite  close,  or 


256  MIDSTREAM 

that  he  didn't  know  Mary  from  Dorothy  at  first,  or 
that  he  ran  into  Jimmy  when  he  stood  in  the  middle 
of  his  path.  Their  observations  may  be  crude;  but 
certainly  they  are  unprejudiced. 

There  is  a  tendency  in  the  grown-up  investigator 
to  believe  that  a  missing  sense  is  compensated  for  by 
a  superior  capacity  of  the  other  senses.  The  only 
superiority  there  is  comes  with  use  and  intensive 
training.  When  the  eye  is  empty  of  light,  a  greater 
necessity  is  laid  upon  the  remaining  senses,  and 
through  the  natural  process  of  education  they  are 
strengthened. 

I  think  people  do  not  usually  realize  what  an 
extensive  apparatus  the  sense  of  touch  is.  It  is  apt  to 
be  confined  in  our  thoughts  to  the  finger-tips.  In 
reality,  the  tactual  sense  reigns  throughout  the  body, 
and  the  skin  of  every  part,  under  the  urge  of  necessity, 
becomes  extraordinarily  discriminating.  It  is  ap- 
proximately true  to  say  that  every  particle  of  the 
skin  is  a  feeler  which  touches  and  is  touched,  and  the 
contact  enables  the  mind  to  draw  conclusions  regard- 
ing the  qualities  revealed  by  tactual  sensation,  such 
as  heat,  cold,  pain,  friction,  smoothness,  and  rough- 
ness, and  the  vibrations  which  play  upon  the  sur- 
face of  the  body. 

This  sense  is  the  chief  medium  between  me  and 
the  outer  world.  The  hand  is  the  most  highly  de- 
veloped organ  of  sense.  The  finger-tips  are  supplied 


MUTED  STRINGS  257 

with  nerves  more  abundantly  than  the  rest  of  the 
body.  But  it  is  not  altogether  the  rich  endowment  of 
nerves  that  gives  the  hand  its  efficiency.  The  arrange- 
ment of  the  thumb  and  fingers,  also  the  motions  of  the 
wrist,  elbow,  and  arm  enable  the  hand  to  accommo- 
date itself  to  many  surfaces  and  contacts. 

The  exercise  of  the  sense  of  touch  covers  a  wide 
field  of  sensation.  The  effort  to  determine  with 
scientific  accuracy  the  nature  of  these  sensations 
was  the  object  of  some  experiments  which  Dr. 
Frederick  Tilney,  professor  of  neurology  at  Co- 
lumbia University,  conducted  with  me  recently. 
I  wonder  if  any  other  individual  has  been  so  mi- 
nutely investigated  as  I  have  been  by  physicians, 
psychologists,  physiologists,  and  neurologists.  I  can 
think  of  only  two  kinds  of  tests  I  have  not  undergone. 
So  far  I  have  not  been  vivisected  or  psychoanalyzed. 
To  scientists  I  am  something  to  be  examined  like  an 
aerolite  or  a  sunspot  or  an  atom!  I  suppose  I  owe  it 
to  a  merciful  Providence  that  I  have  not  been 
separated — actually  separated  into  ions  and  electrons. 
I  suppose  it  is  only  a  matter  of  time  until  they  will 
turn  an  alpha  particle  of  charged  helium  into  the 
dull  substance  of  my  body,  and  knock  the  nucleus 
into  a  million  particles.  The  only  consolation  there  is 
in  such  a  possibility  is  that  it  will  be  very  hard  for  a 
taxicab  to  hit  those  miniature  me's. 

My  scientific  tormentors  bring  all  kinds  of  instru- 


258  MIDSTREAM 

ments  with  long  Greek  names  and  strange  shapes  and 
appalling  ingenuity.  Like  diabolical  genii  they  check 
off  one's  faults  and  little  idiosyncrasies,  and  record 
them,  so  that  any  gossip  may  learn  them  by  rote,  and 
cast  them  into  the  eyes  of  all  the  world.  Like  Cassius, 
I  could  weep,  thus  having  my  slight  equipment  dis- 
played, until  ''they  do  appear  as  huge  as  high 
Olympus!" 

When  the  moment  of  the  test  arrives  you  screw 
your  courage  to  the  sticking  point,  and  await  the  as- 
sault of  a  score  of  little  fiends  which  alight  upon  your 
body.  With  mechanical  precision  they  pinch,  prick, 
squeeze,  press,  sting,  and  buzz.  One  counts  your 
breaths,  another  counts  your  pulse,  another  tries  if 
you  are  hot  or  cold,  if  you  blush,  if  you  know  when 
to  cry  and  laugh,  and  how  fear  and  anger  taste,  and 
how  it  feels  to  swing  round  and  round  like  a  large 
wooden  top,  and  if  it  is  pleasant  being  an  electric 
battery,  and  shooting  out  sparks  of  lightning — for 
fun.  Resignedly  you  permit  them  to  bind  your 
wrists  with  rubber  cuffs  which  they  inflate,  asking, 
''Is  it  tight  or  loose?"  "Oh,  no,"  you  answer,  "it 
doesn't  hurt,  my  arm  is  quite  paralyzed." 

Then  comes  a  procession  of  vibratory  tests,  tuning 
forks,  and  clashing  cymbals.  A  twin  sister  of  a 
vacuum  cleaner  climbs  your  back.  An  orchestra  bel- 
lows vibrations  of  the  nth  degree  of  pandemonium. 
Then  comes  the  little  Pallas-aesthesiometer  to  meas- 


MUTED  STRINGS  259 

ure  the  number  of  high,  thin  vibrations  you  can  feel. 

Then  your  head  is  screwed  into  a  vise-like  instru- 
ment, and  your  fingers  and  joints  are  moved  up  and 
down  rapidly.  You  are  asked  which  finger,  which 
joint  is  moving,  and  whether  the  motion  is  up  or 
down.  You  say  whatever  comes  into  your  head,  and 
trust  to  the  instrument  to  tell  the  truth. 

The  tests  continue  hour  after  hour,  and  always  a 
sense  of  the  untrustworthiness  of  your  sensations  is 
borne  in  upon  you.  There  is  a  monotonous  murmur 
as  the  results  are  read  that  keep  you  informed  how 
short  you  are  falling  of  what  was  expected  of  you. 
You  are  confident  before  the  tests  begin  that  you  will 
win  by  a  generous  margin  over  people  who  see  and 
hear.  But  the  instruments,  like  your  playfellows  of 
long  ago,  tell  the  truth — your  sensory  capacities  are 
just  like  everybody  else's.  There  is  nothing  extraor- 
dinary about  you  except  your  handicap.  Ruefully 
you  try  to  save  your  face  by  explaining  to  your  in- 
quisitors that  your  impressions  of  the  world  do  not 
come  through  the  senses  alone,  but  through  the 
magical  medium  of  imagination  and  association  of 
ideas  which  enter  your  mind  as  detached,  chaotic 
physical  experience,  and  are  synchronized  into  har- 
monious entity  which  is  your  conception  of  the 
universe. 

The  kind  of  instrument  I  want  to  see  invented  is 
one  which  will  show  what  takes  place  in  the  mind 


26o  MIDSTREAM 
when  we  think.  Although  my  account  of  experiments 
I  have  undergone  from  time  to  time  is  somewhat 
flippant,  yet  I  regard  them  as  of  great  importance, 
and  I  am  glad  I  have  had  ever  so  small  a  share  in 
researches  which  are  pregnant  of  results.  I  believe 
that  the  nature  of  sensory  experience  and  the  con- 
cepts derived  from  them  and  the  process  of  uniting 
these  mental  ideas  with  the  external  world  will 
ultimately  be  determined  with  considerable,  if  not 
complete,  accuracy.  If  it  shall  turn  out  that  Dr. 
Tilney's  experiments  with  me  add  a  jot  to  the  sum 
of  the  world's  knowledge  on  this  important  subject, 
I  shall  be  abundantly  repaid  for  the  time  and  slight 
physical  discomfort  I  have  contributed.  Even  if 
there  were  no  increase  of  knowledge,  I  should  still 
be  the  gainer,  since  the  experiments  have  given  me 
opportunity  to  know  Dr.  Tilney. 

I  have  tried  to  show  in  this  book  that  it  is  possible 
to  make  delightful  days  out  of  one's  own  impressions 
and  adventures  though  debarred  from  the  audible, 
visible  life  of  the  world.  My  life  is  ^'a  chronicle  of 
friendship."  My  friends— all  those  about  me— create 
my  world  anew  each  day.  Without  their  loving  care 
all  the  courage  I  could  summon  would  not  suffice  to 
keep  my  heart  strong  for  life.  But,  like  Stevenson,  I 
know  it  is  better  to  do  things  than  to  imagine  them. 

No  one  knows— no  one  can  know— the  bitter 
denials  of  limitation  better  than  I  do.  I  am  not 


MUTED  STRINGS  261 

deceived  about  my  situation.  It  is  not  true  that  I 
am  never  sad  or  rebellious ;  but  long  ago  I  determined 
not  to  complain.  The  mortally  wounded  must  strive 
to  live  out  their  days  cheerfully  for  the  sake  of  others. 
That  is  what  religion  is  for — to  keep  the  hearts  brave 
to  fight  it  out  to  the  end  with  a  smiling  face.  This 
may  not  be  a  very  lofty  ambition,  but  it  is  a  far  cry 
from  surrendering  to  fate.  But  to  get  the  better  of 
fate  even  to  this  extent  one  must  have  work  and  the 
solace  of  friendship  and  an  unwavering  faith  in  God's 
Plan  of  Good. 

As  I  look  back  over  my  life,  I  have  the  satisfaction 
of  knowing  that  I  have  ''done  my  little  owl."  In  a 
letter  to  a  friend  Edward  Fitzgerald  wrote,  "My 
grandfather  had  several  parrots  of  different  sorts 
and  talents:  one  of  them,  Billy  I  think,  could  only 
huff  up  his  feathers  in  what  my  grandfather  called 
an  owl  fashion;  so  when  company  were  praising  the 
more  gifted  parrots,  he  would  say,  'you  will  hurt  poor 
Billy's  feelings — come,  do  your  little  owl,  my  dear.' 
And  so  I  do  my  little  owl,"  he  concluded,  referring 
to  Tales  of  the  Hall,  which  he  had  just  completed. 
That  is  how  I  view  my  life — I  have  done  my  little 
owl. 


Chapter  XVII 
VARIED  CHORDS 

I  HAVE  to  smile  when  people  lament  the  few  con- 
tacts I  have  with  life,  remembering  the  prodigality 
of  interests  that  is  mine  through  my  friends,  my 
books,  through  magazines,  through  travel,  through 
letters.  I  have  become  consciously  proud  of  my  rich 
possessions  because  my  friends  are  so  prone  to  pity 
me. 

Whatever  is  not  in  braille  I  depend  upon  others  to 
read  to  me.  Miss  Thomson  spells  out  the  headlines  in 
the  newspaper  at  breakfast,  between  bites,  and  I 
choose  what  I  want  to  hear.  Magazines  are  read  to 
me  in  the  same  way,  either  by  Miss  Thomson  or 
Mrs.  Macy  or  a  friend  who  happens  to  be  present 
who  is  familiar  with  the  manual  alphabet.  In  this 
way  I  have  enjoyed  the  American  Mercury,  the 
Atlantic  Monthly,  World's  Work,  Harper  s,  and 
Punch  and  many  others. 

My  teacher  reads  me  a  large  part  of  the 
Nation  each  week.  Its  editor,  Mr.  Oswald  Garri- 
son Villard,  is  a  man  for  whom  I  have  the 
warmest  admiration.  He  is  one  of  the  last  editors  in 

America  whose  name  is  as  well  known  as  that  of  his 

262 


VARIED  CHORDS  263 

paper.  He  gives  out  light  as  well  as  heat.  He  is  never 
tongue-tied  by  authority,  nor  does  he  gild  the  in- 
justices of  society  to  placate  anyone.  He  never  departs 
from  the  realities  of  love,  faith,  and  personal  liberty. 
I  like  to  think  what  a  high  standard  American  jour- 
nalism would  have  if  there  were  more  editors  like 
Mr.  Villard. 

Articles  in  all  these  magazines  are  constantly  being 
reprinted  in  our  braille  magazines,  which  I  some- 
times think  are  superior  to  the  magazines  for  the 
seeing.  The  editors  of  the  ink-print  magazines  are 
most  generous  in  giving  permission  for  the  use  of 
their  material.  Not  once  has  it  been  refused,  and 
since  our  editors  are  able  to  choose  the  best,  our 
magazines  are  freer  from  trivialities.  But  they  are, 
of  course,  subject  to  the  same  limitations  as  those  of 
the  seeing.  They  are  limited  by  the  capacity  of  the 
readers. 

Besides  my  braille  magazines  I  have  many  friends 
who  write  to  me  in  braille  and  other  friends  who 
have  their  letters  copied  for  me.  I  especially  enjoy 
reading  letters  with  my  fingers.  They  seem  more  my 
own  than  when  people  spell  them  to  me.  When  I 
was  a  member,  the  Massachusetts  Commission  for  the 
Blind  used  to  have  all  its  reports  embossed  for  me,  and 
the  American  Foundation  for  the  Blind  has  its  bulle- 
tins, special  letters,  and  communications  transcribed 
now. 


264  MIDSTREAM 

One  of  my  friends,  Edna  Porter,  took  a  braille 
tablet  on  a  cruise  around  the  world  so  as  to  send  me 
iivord  pictures  of  places  and  people  she  thought  would 
interest  me.  Using  a  braille  tablet,  for  one  who  is  not 
accustomed  to  it,  is  a  laborious  process,  and  exasper- 
atingly  slow.  Every  letter  must  be  pricked  out  with 
a  stiletto — not  an  occupation  for  a  tourist,  one  would 
think. 

Most  of  her  missives  came  in  the  form  of  postcards, 
on  which  she  punched  snatches  of  song,  stories,  witty 
descriptions  of  funny  situations  she  encountered. 
Thus  I  have  been  able  to  share  her  adventures. 

I  shiver  with  her  when  she  hears  the  crunching  of 
icebergs  in  the  Atlantic  Ocean.  I  stand  with  her  in 
Kensington  Gardens.  I  fly  with  her  across  the  Chan- 
nel, "a  tiny  black  dot  high,  high  in  the  blue  sky." 

I  walk  through  Paris.  I  stand  before  the  statue 
called  ^'Blind"  in  front  of  the  Luxembourg.  I  bow 
my  head  in  Notre  Dame  at  a  special  mass  for  the 
Unknown  Soldier. 

I  visit  Sarah  Bernhardt's  granite  monument  on 
the  isle  of  her  whaler  ancestors.  I  skip  through  Ger- 
many. I  dawdle  through  Venice  "with  a  full  moon 
and  the  gondolier  singing,  and  the  houses  gliding 
past." 

I  stand  in  the  Coliseum.  I  stand  before  Vesuvius. 
I  journey  eastward. 
At  last  I  reach  the  Ganges  and  listen  to  the  weird 


VARIED  CHORDS  265 

notes,  *'0m,  om,  om,"  of  the  song  of  hallowed  waters. 
I  visit  the  Taj  Mahal.  I  am  off  to  China  where  I 
watch  the  Mandarins  riding  past.  I  reach  Japan  in 
time  for  the  Cherry  Blossom  Dance!  ''How  the  petals 
fall  like  cascades  of  snow,  while  the  temple  bell  rings 
sweet  and  low,  and  people  go  to  the  shrines  to  pray. 
Oh,  look!  there  go  women  with  babies  on  their  backs 
and  men  in  kimonos  down  the  street  klop-klop-klop, 
in  wooden  shoes  with  heels  four  inches  high." 

Whether  she  is  writing  or  talking  Edna  seems 
always  to  be  saying,  "Fm  glad  I  love  the  human 
race.  I'm  glad  I  like  the  silly  way  it  talks,  and  I'm 
glad  I  think  it's  jolly  good  fun." 

The  friend  who  does  more  than  any  other  to  keep 
me  in  touch  with  the  world  of  science  is  Edward  L. 
Holmes.  I  have  known  him  since  I  was  at  the  Oilman 
School  for  Young  Ladies  in  Cambridge  and  he  was 
a  student  of  architecture  at  the  Massachusetts  Insti- 
tute of  Technology.  He  was  the  first  Californian  I 
had  met,  and  it  seemed  to  me  that  he  was  talking  to 
me  over  the  Oolden  Oate.  Afterwards  I  visited  in  his 
home  in  California  and  had  many  delightful  trips 
with  him  around  San  Francisco.  Now  he  lives  in 
New  York  and  I  see  him  very  often. 

Ships  and  lighthouses  have  always  had  an  irre- 
sistible lure  for  him.  For  more  than  twenty  years  he 
has  had  in  mind  a  master  mariner's  compass  elec- 
trically harnessed  to  operate  automatic  navigation 


266  MIDSTREAM 

apparatus,  and  for  ten  years  he  has  worked  unceas- 
ingly in  developing  it. 

The  brotherhood  of  the  sea  tell  us  that  no  man 
may  touch  the  magnetic  compass  aboard  ship,  yet 
throughout  the  ages  men  have  v^anted  to  do  this 
because  it  is  in  man's  nature  to  strive  to  do  that  v^hich 
other  men  say  he  shall  not  do.  The  navigators  de- 
clared that  anyone  who  meddled  with  the  magnetic 
compass  would  destroy  the  governing  spirit  of  the 
ship,  for  it  is  the  divine  shepherd  of  ships — the  hand 
that  drives  them  in  ocean  channels  and  brings  them 
safe  to  the  harbour.  Mr.  Holmes  thought  otherwise. 
Long  years  he  studied  the  duties  and  idiosycrasies  of 
compasses  and  decided  that  the  magnetic  compass 
could  be  induced  to  look  at  an  electric  current  with- 
out losing  its  head.  The  brotherhood  of  the  sea  looked 
at  my  friend  with  supercilious  disdain.  Some  of  them 
said,  "Other  fools  have  thought  they  knew  more  than 
their  creator."  My  friend  looked  at  the  compass  and 
the  compass  looked  back  at  him,  each  gauging  the 
other's  capacity  for  overcoming  and  resisting.  He 
has  told  me  many  times  how  he  learned  the  secret  of 
getting  the  magnetic  compass  to  act  naturally  in  the 
presence  of  an  electrically  charged  wire.  Patiently 
he  talked  down  to  my  level  until  he  became  convinced 
that  I  really  wanted  to  know  about  his  compass. 
Then  we  talked  as  men  together,  each  too  interested 

■  ^ 


VARIED  CHORDS  267 

to  think  about  anything  except  the  subject  in  hand, 
and  that  subject  was  compasses — the  Kelvin  compass, 
the  Ritchie  compass,  the  gyro  compass,  and  his  mas- 
ter magnetic  compass.  In  connection  with  his  compass 
Mr.  Holmes  has  developed  an  instrument  which  he 
calls  a  path  and  position  indicator.  It  is  an  uncanny 
contrivance  to  keep  a  check  upon  the  usual  method 
of  ascertaining  a  ship's  position  in  relation  to  its 
course.  It  possesses  the  attributes  of  a  super-watch- 
dog. It  gives  instant  warning  to  the  man  on  the  bridge 
if  the  ship  strays  the  least  bit  from  the  set  course  and 
enables  him  to  bring  the  vessel  back  to  that  course. 
Tirelessly  it  watches  every  movement  of  the  great 
ship.  This  clever  instrument,  in  addition  to  saving 
time  and  fuel,  does  away  with  all  guessing  on  the 
part  of  the  helmsman  and  increases  the  safety  of 
navigation  as  well. 

In  these  days  when  the  names  and  sayings  and 
doings  of  millionaires,  titled  foreigners,  and  crimi- 
nals are  dinned  into  the  public  ear,  a  man  of  real 
achievement  like  Mr.  Holmes  is  likely  to  be  passed 
over  by  the  ministers  of  publicity.  It  is  reassuring, 
however,  to  know  that  Mr.  Holmes,  the  inventor  of 
the  Holmes  Master  Compass  and  Position  Indicator, 
is  safe  in  the  impregnable  stronghold  of  time. 

With  such  friends  as  Edna  and  Mr.  Holmes  I  have 
no  sense  at  all  of  limitations,  but  when  I  am  with  a 
group,  especially  if  strangers  are  among  them,  I  very 


268  MIDSTREAM 
much  miss  not  being  able  to  join  in  their  conversa- 
tion. 

During  the  gaps  when  I  am  left  alone  I  amuse 
myself  by  observing  the  callers.  There  is  nothing 
about  me  to  put  them  on  their  guard,  and  I  find  I 
can,  or  imagine  I  can,  substitute  myself  for  the  visi- 
tor. If  he  is  dull  I  know  it  by  the  parts  of  his  con- 
versation that  are  repeated  to  me.  If  he  is  fidgety  I 
can  tell  by  the  behaviour  of  his  feet  and  hands  and 
by  the  small  vibrations  that  come  to  me  when  he 
laughs  to  cover  his  embarrassment. 

I  know  when  callers  are  pleasant  by  a  sort  of 
spiritual  freemasonry.  If  a  woman  is  sitting  beside 
me,  and  I  read  her  lips,  I  at  once  notice  the  friendli- 
ness or  the  animation  of  her  face  and  the  little  name- 
less motions  of  head  and  hand  that  give  colour  and 
emphasis  to  her  words,  and  I  observe  her  mood,  gay 
or  grave.  If  she  is  seated  at  a  distance  from  me,  Mrs. 
Macy  or  Miss  Thomson  interprets  for  me,  and  the 
alertness  of  their  spelling,  (and  they  do  not  al- 
ways spell  what  people  think  they  do)  enables 
me  to  form  an  impression  of  my  caller.  If  she 
smiles,  I  am  told ;  if  she  speaks  of  something  with 
much  feeling,  a  quick  pressure  on  my  hand  prepares 
me  to  fall  in  with  her  mood.  Usually,  however,  after 
her  first  or  second  call  she  talks  to  me  herself. 

My  life  has  been  rich  in  friends.  I  can  hardly 
mention  anything  I  have  done  without  bringing  in 


VARIED  CHORDS  269 

the  name  of  one.  A  friend  who  all  through  my  life 
has  held  out  a  helping  hand  to  me  whenever  I  came 
to  a  special  difficulty  is  Mrs.  William  Thaw.  She 
was  overburdened  with  claims  on  her  benevolence, 
yet  she  never  failed  to  contribute  generously  to  every 
movement  in  which  I  took  part — the  saving  of  human 
eyes,  the  raising  of  funds  for  the  European  soldiers 
blinded  in  the  World  War,  and  the  work  of  the 
American  Foundation  for  the  Blind.  Even  when  she 
learned  I  had  become  a  Socialist,  she  did  not  with- 
draw her  friendship  and  financial  help.  She 
used  to  plead  with  me  not  to  let  fanatics 
preach  their  crazy  theories  through  me;  but 
the  temper  of  her  mind  was  such  that  while 
she  abhorred  my  radicalism  she  cherished  me.  It  was 
at  Mrs.  Thaw's  that  Dr.  John  Brashear  used  to  tell 
me  of  his  work — how  the  great  telescopes  were  made. 
He  showed  me  how  they  were  polished  with  the  palm 
of  the  hand,  and  showed  me  his  hands  scored  with 
many  arduous  endeavours!  He  would  talk  of  his 
goings  and  comings  among  the  observatories  where 
his  glasses  were,  and  the  stars  he  had  seen  through 
the  lenses  he  fashioned.  "In  my  thoughts  there  are 
obscurities,"  he  would  say,  "but  the  lenses  I  have 
wrought  are  as  transparent  as  light." 

Mr.  Frank  Doubleday,  or  Effendi,  as  he  lets  me 
call  him,  has  been  a  friend  of  mine  since  my  college 
days.  Twenty-five  years  ago,  when  the  House  of 


Tjo  MIDSTREAM 

Doubleday  was  just  starting  out,  he  published  The 
Story  of  My  Life.  It  is  pleasant  to  realize  that  he 
has  continued  his  interest  in  my  literary  work  all 
these  years.  More  than  anyone  else  he  is  responsible 
for  this  book.  For  more  than  a  decade  he  has  urged 
me  to  bring  the  story  of  my  life  up  to  date,  and  I  am 
vividly  conscious  of  his  kind  hand  and  friendly 
encouragement  as  I  write. 

John  Morley  says  in  his  Recollections  that  "the 
great  publisher  is  a  sort  of  Minister  of  Letters,  and 
is  not  to  be  without  the  qualities  of  a  statesman.'' 
These  qualities  I  think  Effendi  has.  A  publisher's 
life  is  colourful  of  the  past,  rich  in  memories  of 
noted  people  who  were  his  friends.  Effendi's  life,  in 
retrospect,  must  look  good  to  him,  full  of  hard  work 
iand  fine  achievement,  of  success  and  friends,  of  public 
honour  and  affection  and  happiness. 

Effendi's  brother,  Mr.  Russell  Doubleday,  is  an- 
other whose  name  it  is  delightful  to  associate  with 
the  writing  of  this  book.  With  what  charming  kind- 
nesses he  has  put  fresh  zest  into  my  tasks  when  I 
called  loud  and  long  for  my  thoughts,  and  they 
would  not  come!  On  one  occasion  when  I  had  waited 
long  for  an  idea  he  invited  me  to  visit  the  beautiful 
gardens  which  surround  the  plant  in  Garden  City 
where  this  book  is  to  be  printed.  After  I  had  wan- 
dered a  while  among  the  roses  and  evergreens  my 
thoughts  came  bounding  to  me  like  a  dog  at  call. 


VARIED  CHORDS  271 

Greatly  refreshed,  I  returned  home  and  finished  a 
chapter  that  evening. 

For  twenty  years  I  have  missed  the  warm  handclasp 
of  my  Pflegevater,  Mr.  Hitz.  His  football  is  death- 
muted,  but  other  Swedenborgian  friends  walk  with 
me,  Mr.  Paul  Sperry,  Mr.  Clarence  Lathbury,  Mr. 
C.  W.  Barron,  and  Mr.  George  Warren  of  Boston. 
There  are  radiant  moments  when  I  feel  the  beams  of 
spiritual  kinship  that  occasionally  shine  upon  the 
yearning  soul.  I  had  this  experience  last  May  when 
I  spoke  at  the  convention  of  the  New  Jerusalem 
Church  in  Washington.  I  shall  always  be  deeply 
moved  when  I  recall  how  beautifully  they  welcomed 
me— the  fragrant  flowers  they  showered  upon  me, 
the  lovely  music  that  floated  around  me  while  the 
hymn  was  played,  ^'O  Love  That  Will  Not  Let  Me 
Go,"  and  the  affection  with  which  the  people  sur- 
rounded me,  like  one  family. 

I  have  already  spoken  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Charles 
White.  It  was  through  them  that  I  met  Max  Hein- 
rich. 

Mr.  White  had  often  spoken  of  him.  "Max  is  a 
romantic  figure,"  he  would  say.  ''He  has  been  one  of 
the  greatest  favourites  of  his  time  in  the  musical 
world.  He  is  old  now,  but  interesting  still.  If  he  likes 
you,  his  charm  is  irresistible." 

"Do  you  think  he  will  like  us?"  I  ventured.  "Max's 
likes  are  not  predictable,"  Mr.  White  answered ;  "but 


MIDSTREAM 

send  him  an  invitation  to  come  out  with  me,  and  see 
what  happens." 

Max  came,  and  liked  us  so  well  he  spent  several 
days  at  our  house,  and  came  afterwards  many  times. 
Frequently  I  lunched  or  dined  with  him  in  New 
York  at  Luchow's. 

I  fell  immediately  under  his  spell.  He  was  an  old 
man,  but  I  felt  as  if  he  were  a  princely  youth,  so 
chivalrous  was  his  homage.  He  has  been  dead  for 
years,  and  in  the  interim  my  life  has  been  crowded 
with  friendships,  but  I  have  not  forgotten  his  im- 
perious, intense,  lovable,  whimsical  personality. 

Like  a  great  book  he  created  a  new  world  wherever 
he  went.  Max  was  not  a  happy  man,  yet  he  had  known 
all  the  happiness  mortals  can  experience.  His  unrest, 
charm,  and  wilfulness  were  temperamental,  and  the 
source  of  his  joy  and  his  misery.  More  than  most 
men,  he  seized  for  himself  the  privilege  of  doing  as 
he  liked,  and  others  less  audacious  got  out  of  the  way 
of  his  magnificent  impudence. 

He  had  been  a  dazzling  success  on  the  concert 
stage  but  sang  very  little  when  I  knew  him,  being 
sensitive,  and  realizing  that  his  voice  was  no  longer 
what  it  had  been.  But  sometimes  he  would  take  me 
into  the  sitting  room  and  sing  for  me  some  of  the 
songs  that  had  made  him  famous.  He  would  half  sing 
and  half  recite  "Enoch  Arden"  to  a  beautiful  ac- 
companiment, while  I  kept  one  hand  on  the  piano, 


VARIED  CHORDS  273 

and  the  fingers  of  my  other  hand  on  his  lips.  He  used 
to  say  cynically,  ''I  still  have  my  triumphs,  Charlie. 
The  blind  and  deaf  find  me  magnificent."  Every 
time  he  went  away,  I  felt  the  disappointment  of  a 
child  who  finishes  a  book  and  cries  for  something 
more  to  follow. 

It  was  a  cold  day  in  February,  1912,  that  Georgette 
Le  Blanc  (Mme.  Maeterlinck)  came  out  to  Wrent- 
ham  to  bring  me,  she  said,  greetings  from  Maurice 
Maeterlinck.  She  was  singing  'Telleas  and  Meli- 
sande"  in  the  Boston  opera  that  winter.  She  was 
animated  and  confiding,  and  to  my  touch  beautiful. 
Her  gayety  of  heart  and  her  lively  interest  in  many 
subjects  carried  us  over  the  difficulties  of  communi- 
cating in  French.  After  she  returned  to  France  she 
sent  me  a  card  on  which  Maeterlinck  had  written 
^'My  greetings  and  love  to  the  girl  who  has  found 
the  Bluebird." 

I  met  Signora  Montessori  on  two  occasions  while 
she  was  lecturing  in  America.  The  first  time  was  in 
Boston,  the  second  in  San  Francisco  during  the  Pan- 
American  Exposition  when  a  great  meeting  was  held 
to  celebrate  educational  achievement.  Signora 
Montessori  and  Mrs.  Macy  and  many  others  spoke, 
and  Signora  Montessori  paid  my  teacher  a  beautiful 
tribute,  the  memory  of  which  thrills  me  with 
happiness. 

In  conversation  Signora  Montessori  talked  with 


274  MIDSTREAM 

charming  vivacity  in  Italian  and  a  lovely  young  lady 
interpreted  what  she  said.  She  was  interested  to  learn 
that  her  system  and  Mrs.  Macy's  were  much  alike. 
She  spoke  of  the  attitude  of  the  Church  in  Italy  to- 
wards education  and  freedom  of  thought,  and  the 
blighting  effects  of  poverty  upon  childhood.  She  de- 
clared that  school  life  should  be  an  adventure,  the 
child  spirit  must  be  free.  ''I  would  not  bind  it  even 
to  the  feet  of  God." 

Another  worker  among  the  children  of  the  poor 
whom  I  like  to  recall  is  Miss  Margaret  Macmillan 
of  London.  She  told  me  that  my  teacher's  method  had 
been  a  wellspring  of  beneficence  to  thousands  of  un- 
fortunate children  in  England.  She  herself  had  made 
use  of  it  among  the  children  in  her  care. 

It  is  many  years  now  since  Judge  Lindsey  first 
greeted  me  in  Denver.  He  had  just  come  from  a 
meeting  where  he  had  advocated  a  mother's  pension 
law.  He  was  very  much  excited  and  poured  out  his 
indignation  at  the  stupid  indifference  of  society. 
^'Here  we  are,  huddling  children  into  homes  and 
nurseries  and  paying  strangers  to  look  after  them, 
while  the  mothers  take  care  of  other  people's  chil- 
dren and  homes.  Wouldn't  you  think  any  intelligent 
citizen  would  see  that  it  would  be  more  sensible  to 
pay  the  mothers  for  taking  care  of  their  own 
children?" 

He  said  he  knew  he  had  a  hard  fight  ahead,  but  I 


VARIED  CHORDS  275 
doubt  if  Judge  Lindsey  himself  knew  just  how  hard 
it  was  going  to  be.  People  said  he  was  crazy  when  he 
took  the  part  of  bad  boys  against  the  police  and  said 
that  they  should  have  a  court  of  their  own.  But  he 
established  such  a  court,  and  people  came  from  all 
over  the  world  to  see  how  it  was  managed.  Public 
playgrounds  and  public  baths  came  as  a  result  of  his 
dreams.  Old  laws  were  changed  and  better  ones  made, 
as  he  recommended,  and  these  things  are  only  a  small 
part  of  what  he  has  done  for  the  good  of  his 
country. 

I  cannot  help  wishing  that  so  many  of  my  friend- 
ships did  not  have  to  be  conducted  by  correspondence. 
I  have  letters  that  I  treasure  from  John  Burroughs, 
William  Dean  Howells,  Dr.  Richard  Cabot,  Carl 
Sandburg,  and  others.  The  only  personal  contact  I 
had  with  Eugene  Debs  was  through  letters.  I  heard 
of  him  first  in  connection  with  the  Great  Northern 
Strike  in  1894,  but  it  was  not  until  I  was  a  woman 
of  thirty  that  I  began  to  understand  the  significance 
of  the  liberating  movement  for  which  he  stood. 

He  needs  no  defence  among  those  who  know  his 
v^ork,  but  there  are  many  who  have  not  yet  learned  to 
appreciate  him  justly.  He  was  a  working  man,  but  he 
succeeded  in  making  himself  master  of  the  culture 
of  the  dominant  class.  Gentle,  modest,  refined,  a 
lover  of  books  and  of  beauty,  he  chose  to  be  the 
champion  of  the  despised  cause  of  the  poor.  He  at- 


276  MIDSTREAM 

tacked  the  rule  of  the  strong  and  the  system  of  private 
property,  and  always  he  was  in  earnest,  terribly  in 
earnest.  He  never  doubted  the  righteousness  of  his 
mission,  or  that  his  cause  would  win  in  the  end,  as 
surely  as  the  sun  lights  the  sky.  He  summed  up  the 
whole  philosophy  of  life  in  these  words,  which  are 
inscribed  on  my  heart: 

Your  Honour,  years  ago  I  recognized  my  kinship  with  all  living 
beings,  and  I  made  up  my  mind  that  I  was  not  one  bit  better 
than  the  meanest  of  the  earth.  I  said  then,  and  I  say  now,  that 
while  there  is  a  lower  class,  I  am  in  it ;  while  there  is  a  criminal 
element,  I  am  of  it ;  while  there  is  a  soul  in  prison,  I  am  not  free. 

Most  of  my  contact  with  La  Follette  was  with 
letters  to  him  or  his  family.  I  met  him — I  think  it 
was  in  the  spring  of  1905— when  my  mother  and  I 
were  in  Washington,  and  Mr.  Hitz  was  showing  us 
the  Capitol.  He  saw  the  Senator  coming  out  of  one 
of  the  committee  rooms,  his  hands  full  of  papers. 
Mr.  Hitz  knew  him  only  by  sight,  but,  thinking  it 
would  be  pleasant  for  my  mother  and  me  to  meet 
him,  spoke  to  him  and  introduced  me.  Mr.  La  Fol- 
lette greeted  us  in  gentle  perplexity,  wondering  who 
we  were.  When,  however,  Mr.  Hitz  repeated  my 
name,  he  responded,  "Yes,  yes,  I  know,"  and  shook 
my  hand  again  saying,  "When  people  meet  you,  I 
am  sure  they  always  shake  hands  twice." 


VARIED  CHORDS  277 

When  he  had  said  good-bye,  Mr.  Hitz  remarked, 
"That's  a  fighter.  They  say  here  in  Washington  that 
if  there  were  two  ways  of  getting  a  man  to  cross  the 
street,  one  to  invite  him  over  and  the  other  to  take 
him  by  the  collar,  La  Follette  would  take  him  by 
the  collar." 

When  I  came  to  know  Senator  La  Follette  better, 
I  regarded  him  as  Woodrow  Wilson  did,  "a  lonely 
figure  climbing  the  mountain  of  privileges,"  stead- 
fastly serving  the  interests  of  the  American  people. 
Yet  in  another  sense  he  was  not  lonely.  Never  did  a 
man  have  a  more  devoted  family.  His  wife  fought 
side  by  side  with  him  in  his  political  battles.  His  son, 
who  is  now  in  the  Senate,  told  me  recently  that  from 
their  earliest  years  he  and  his  sisters  were  permitted 
to  be  present  at  the  family  councils.  As  they  grew  up 
they  joined  their  father's  forces  and  upheld  his  noble 
principles. 

Shortly  after  I  began  campaigning  for  the  Ameri- 
can Foundation  for  the  Blind  I  received  a  contribu- 
tion for  the  work  inclosed  in  a  delightful  letter  signed 
Jedediah  Tingle.  I  did  not  know  until  last  year  that 
Jedediah  Tingle  was  Mr.  William  Harmon.  In  the 
second  letter,  which  was  signed  with  his  own  name, 
he  wrote  that  he  would  open  to  the  blind  a  series  of 
awards  for  creative  achievements  in  the  various  fields 
of  education,  craftsmanship,  art,  public  endeavour 
and  industrial  relationships.  "I  want  to  do  this,"  he 


278  MIDSTREAM 

said,  "for  those  who  are  handicapped  so  that  they 
may  know  the  ambition  and  joy  which  come,  not  only 
from  achievement  itself,  but  also  for  the  occupational 
effort  to  achieve."  Out  of  his  generosity  and  sympathy 
Mr.  Harmon  radiated  the  beneficence  that  really 
helps  because  those  whom  it  assists  are  enabled  to 
help  themselves. 

Many  people  whose  visits  it  is  delightful  to  re- 
member have  called  upon  us  here  in  Forest  Hills. 
Sir  Richard  Paget,  who  sees  in  the  science  of 
phonetics  a  way  of  improving  speech;  Mr.  Akiba, 
who  is  head  of  the  School  for  the  Blind  in  Tokio; 
Miss  Betty  Hirsch  of  Berlin,  a  sightless  worker  in 
the  rehabilitation  of  blinded  German  soldiers;  Dr. 
James  Kerr  Love,  a  distinguished  aural  surgeon  of 
Glasgow,  greatly  interested  in  the  education  of  deaf 
children;  Countee  Cullen,  the  negro  poet,  whose 
poems  Edna  Porter  has  copied  in  braille  for  me. 

A  comrade  in  the  dark  who  lives  far  away  now 
but  used  to  visit  me  often  is  Elizabeth  Garrett.  When 
books  began  to  appear  about  the  thrilling  adventures 
of  Elizabeth's  father,  Pat  Garrett,  the  famous  sheriff 
of  New  Mexico,  and  the  hairbreadth  escapes  of 
"Billy  the  Kid,"  I  felt  as  one  might  if  somebody  took 
liberties  with  his  family.  For  Elizabeth  has  told  me 
so  much  about  her  father  and  "the  kid"  that  they 
seemed  to  belong  to  me  somehow. 

Elizabeth  has  been  blind  since  she  was  born,  but 


VARIED  CHORDS  279 
she  has  her  father's  free  spirit.  Even  as  a  child  she 
was  perfectly  fearless.  She  rode  horses  bareback 
without  anyone  to  accompany  her,  and  gave  her 
family  many  anxious  moments,  especially  when  she 
took  it  into  her  wilful  head  to  ride  wild  horses.  One 
day  she  swung  herself  to  the  back  of  an  unbroken 
pony  which  belonged  to  one  of  her  father's  young 
deputy  sheriffs.  The  pony  flew  down  the  road.  No 
one  could  stop  him.  Miles  and  miles  he  ran  until 
he  was  worn  out.  When  he  slowed  down  Elizabeth 
slipped  off  and  sat  calmly  down  by  the  roadside  and 
waited  for  her  father.  With  the  same  unconquered 
spirit  she  is  still  seeking  adventures  in  the  dark. 
No  danger  or  hardship  can  hold  her  back.  She 
is  one  of  the  few  blind  people  who  travels  about  the 
country  alone.  When  she  goes  to  a  city  where  she  is 
likely  to  have  difficulty,  she  writes  to  the  station  mas- 
ter telling  on  what  train  she  will  arrive,  and  asking 
him  please  to  have  a  porter  meet  her.  Not  once  has 
the  porter  failed  to  be  on  hand. 

Elizabeth  has  a  lovely  voice  and  a  talent  for  com- 
posing her  own  songs.  She  has  written  the  state  song 
of  New  Mexico,  which  is  my  favourite  among  her 
compositions.  It  breathes  of  the  wild  flowers  she  has 
gathered,  the  mountains  she  has  climbed,  and  the  un- 
confined  frolic  of  the  winds  upon  the  mesas  of  her 
romantic  homeland.  She  used  often  to  spend  the 
week-end  with  us  while  she  was  studying  singing  in 


28o  MIDSTREAM 
New  York,  and  there  was  no  happier  hour  than  when 
we  gathered  about  her  in  the  twilight.  She  always 
asked  me  to  stand  beside  her  with  my  hand  on  her 
throat.  ''I  can't  bear  to  have  you  left  out,  dear,"  she 
would  spell,  "and  I  feel  I  can  sing  better  if  you 
'hear'  me."  Sometimes  we  accompanied  her  when 
she  gave  recitals  in  towns  around  New  York,  and  she 
always  insisted  that  I  listen  to  her  just  as  I  did  at 
home. 

She  is  ever  ready  to  go  wherever  she  might  bring 
cheer  to  the  sick,  the  sorrowful,  and  the  lonely.  One 
day  she  visited  Sing  Sing  prison  and  sang  for  the 
men.  Not  long  afterwards  I  was  deeply  touched  to 
read  in  the  Ziegler  Magazine  for  the  Blind  a  poem 
which  one  of  the  prisoners  addressed  to  her.  I  will 
quote  the  first  verse : 

Fools,  they!  They  call  her  blind! 

They  call  her  blind,  yet  can  she  lead 

A  thousand  soul-sick  men 

From  cold  gray  stones  and  make  them  heed 

The  song  of  wind  and  rain. 

From  gloomy  cell  to  dewy  mead, 

To  sun  and  stars  and  sky, 

And  show  the  message  all  can  read 

Of  love  and  peace  and  hope. 

I  met  Elizabeth  through  another  blind  friend, 
Nina  Rhoades,  whose  father,  John  Harsen  Rhoades, 


VARIED  CHORDS  281 
used  to  try  to  teach  me  a  little  practical  sense  in  my 
young  days.  I  was  not  a  very  apt  pupil ;  but  he  was 
always  patient  with  me. 

I  very  often  visited  the  Rhoadeses  at  their  home  in 
New  York  and  their  country  house  at  Seabright, 
Tsf.  J.  Miss  R.  knew  the  manual  alphabet,  and  we 
had  many  long  talks  about  books  and  people  we 
knew,  or  would  like  to  know.  She  had  many  delight- 
ful books  which  her  friends  copied  for  her  in  N.  Y. 
Point  that  could  not  be  obtained  from  any  library. 
With  what  delight  I  read  Goethe's  Iphigenia,  Daniel 
Deronda,  Nathan  the  Wise  and  The  Casting  Away 
of  Mrs.  Leeks  and  Mrs.  Aleshine.  Nina  Rhoades  her- 
self is  a  writer  of  charming  stories  for  girls.  She  used 
to  write  them  out  in  Point,  and  sometimes  I  had  the 
pleasure  of  reading  them  before  they  were  published. 

She  has  a  captivating  personality,  and  I  loved  the 
way  we  used  to  laugh  and  argue  the  summer  hours 
away  on  the  upper  piazza  of  her  Seabright  home. 
Every  now  and  then  our  discussions  were  interrupted 
by  great  breakers  which  leapt  the  bulkhead  and  flung 
wreaths  of  white  spray  in  our  faces. 

It  was  through  her  also  that  I  met  Sir  Arthur 
Pearson,  founder  of  St.  Dunstan's  Hostel  for  the 
blinded  soldiers  in  London. 

When  Rabindranath  Tagore  visited  America,  he 
came  out  to  see  me,  accompanied  by  a  number  of 
friends  and  admirers.  He  was  tall  and  stately.  His 


282  MIDSTREAM 

long  gray  hair  and  beard  mingling  together  gave 
him  the  appearance  of  an  ancient  prophet.  Serene, 
gracious,  he  saluted  me  in  a  monotone,  almost  like  a 
prayer.  I  told  him  I  was  pleased  to  meet  him  because 
I  had  read  his  poems,  and  I  knew  that  he  loved 
humanity.  shall  have  cause  for  rejoicing,"  he 
said  gently,  ''if  my  writings  reflect  my  love  of 
man.  .  .  .  The  world  is  waiting  for  men  who  love 
God  and  their  fellow  creatures  and  not  them- 
selves." 

After  the  Stately  One  had  seated  himself  in  the 
centre  of  a  circle  of  friendly  and  reverent  listeners, 
he  talked  of  poetry,  of  India  and  China  and  the 
power  of  the  spirit  that  alone  can  bring  freedom.  He 
spoke  sadly  of  the  war  clouds  hovering  over  the 
world.  "The  West  is  trying  to  thrust  opium  down  the 
throat  of  China,  and  non-compliance  by  the  Chinese 
means  taking  possession  of  their  country,  and  Asia 
doth  prepare  weapons  in  her  armouries,  and  her  tar- 
get is  to  be  the  heart  of  Europe,  and  nests  are  being 
built  on  the  shores  of  the  Pacific  for  the  vulture- 
ships  of  England.  Japan,  the  farthest  East,  is  already 
awake.  China  will  rouse  herself  when  the  robbers 
break  through  her  walls.  ...  Yet  love  of  self  can 
have  no  other  destination  than  self-destruction.  Love 
of  God  is  our  only  fulfilment.  It  has  in  it  the  ulti- 
mate solution  of  all  problems  and  all  difficulties." 

I  could  not  help  thinking  of  Gandhi,  who  not  only 


VARIED  CHORDS  283 
hears  this  message  of  love,  but  also  teaches  it  and 
lets  it  shine  in  his  deeds  before  all  men. 

It  was  not  until  we  came  to  Forest  Hills  to  live 
that  I  made  the  acquaintance  of  Art  Young,  though 
for  years  Mr.  Macy  had  described  his  cartoons  to  me 
as  they  appeared  in  Life,  in  The  Liberator,  The 
Nation,  and  The  Masses, 

One  day  when  we  were  returning  from  a  camp- 
ing trip  in  New  England,  we  passed  through  Bethel, 
Connecticut.  Edna  remarked,  ^'Art  Young  lives  near 
here."  We  easily  found  his  quaint  little  house  on  the 
side  of  the  road,  with  a  giant  pine  tree  in  front  of  it, 
and  morning  glories  running  wild  everywhere;  and 
we  found  Art  Young  in  the  living  room,  drawing  pic- 
tures of  ''trees  at  night"  for  the  Saturday  Evening 
Post.  I  told  him  that  Mrs.  Macy  also  saw  things  in 
trees  at  twilight— animals  and  human  beings.  After 
supper  we  sat  on  the  doorsteps  in  the  semi-darkness 
and  they  searched  the  trees  for  the  goblins  and  dry- 
ads that  inhabit  them. 

It  was  my  privilege  not  long  ago  to  have  a  call 
from  Dr.  Watson,  Dr.  Bell's  assistant  in  the  in- 
vention of  the  telephone.  The  nobility  of  his  char- 
acter reveals  itself  in  every  movement.  I  believe  there 
is  a  parallel  between  a  man's  accomplishment  and  his 
character.  His  work  is  a  visible  sign  of  his  spirit. 
Some  such  thoughts  passed  through  my  brain  as  I 
talked  with  Dr.  Watson.  There  was  the  consciousness 


284  MIDSTREAM 
of  a  self  unified  as  in  a  work  of  art.  There  was 
the  strong,  skilful  hand  that  had  subdued  the  electric 
current  and  won  a  victory  over  matter ;  and  there  he 
sat,  modest,  gentle,  radiating  kindly  interest  and 
heightening  the  effect  by  reciting  Browning's  noble 
words : 

He  placed  thee  amid  this  plastic  dance  of  circumstance 

Thou  wouldst  forsooth  deem  arrested — 

This  machinery  but  meant 

To  give  thy  soul  its  bent 

And  turn  thee  out  sufficiently  impressed. 

Every  Sunday  since  I  have  been  in  Forest  Hills  a 
number  of.  little  neighbours  run  in  after  Sunday 
school.  They  bound  into  my  study  like  a  burst  of 
sunshine.  One  of  them  kicks  the  big  stone  which 
keeps  my  door  from  slamming;  another  spoils  the 
letter  I  am  writing  by  pushing  down  the  keys  of  the 
typewriter  at  random;  they  scatter  my  braille  notes 
all  over  the  floor.  They  open  my  file  and  rummage 
among  the  papers.  They  are  mischief  incarnate,  but  I 
adore  them.  Their  teasing,  their  laughter,  and  their 
sprawling  affection  keep  me  young  for  the  spring- 
time of  Heaven. 

Many  artists  whose  appeal  is  directed  to  the  eye  or 
ear  have  tried  to  project  their  art  beyond  the  dark 
curtain  of  sense  for  my  entertainment.  When  I  was  a 
young  girl  Ellen  Terry,  Sir  Henry  Irving,  and 


Photo,  by  Nicholas  Muray,  N.  Y. 

Miss  Keller  ''listening'  to  the  violin  of  Edwin  Grasse. 


VARIED  CHORDS  285 

Joseph  Jefferson  assumed  for  me  characters  which 
they  had  made  famous  and  I  followed  with  breath- 
less interest  their  gestures  and  changes  of  expression. 
My  fingers  have  traced  the  mobile  lines  of  David 
Warfield's  face  and  felt  the  youth  and  charm  of 
Jane  Cowl's  Juliet.  With  my  fingers  on  his  lips, 
Caruso  poured  his  golden  voice  into  my  hand.  Cha- 
liapin  shouted  the  Russian  folk  song  with  his  strong 
arm  encircling  me  so  that  I  could  feel  every 
vibration.  I  knew  his  tone  of  defiance,  the  great 
peasant  laugh,  and  the  passion  of  the  multitude.  He 
also  sang  the  Volga  Boat  Song,  and  I  sensed  its  sad, 
haunting  notes,  the  resignation  and  sustained  effort 
of  strong  men  who  believe  we  must  pull  together. 

I  was  present  in  Detroit  at  one  of  Gabrilowitsch's 
concerts.  I  sat  so  close  to  the  orchestra  and  the  vibra- 
tions carried  so  wonderfully  in  that  resonant  audi- 
torium that  I  seemed  to  swim  on  a  flood  of  harmony. 

Two  blind  men  who  have  played  for  me,  they  tell 
me,  are  gifted  violinists,  Abraham  Haitovitch  and 
Edwin  Grasse.  Mr.  Grasse  accompanied  me  in  the 
campaign  for  the  American  Foundation  for  the 
Blind,  and  audiences  everywhere  received  him  with 
glorious  enthusiasm.  Recently  the  Brooklyn  Institute 
of  Arts  and  Sciences  chose  Mr.  Grasse  as  its  organist, 
guaranteeing  him  good  remuneration,  and  in  October 
he  will  begin  giving  three  recitals  a  week. 

When  we  were  in  Denver  during  one  of  my 


286  MIDSTREAM 

vaudeville  tours  Heifetz  played  for  me.  My  fingers 
rested  lightly  on  his  violin.  At  first  the  bow  moved 
softly  over  the  strings,  as  if  the  master  were  ques- 
tioning the  Spirit  of  Music  what  he  should  play  for 
one  who  could  not  hear.  The  bow  fluttered.  From  the 
sensitive  instrument  there  came  a  tremulous,  far- 
away murmur.  Was  it  the  faint  rumour  of  the  wings 
of  birds?  Each  delicate  note  alighted  on  my  finger- 
tips like  thistledown.  They  touched  my  face,  my 
hair,  like  kisses  remembered  and  love-lit  smiles.  Im- 
material, transient  as  the  sigh  of  evening  winds,  the 
violet  breath  of  dawn.  Are  they  rose  petals  dropped 
from  a  fairy's  hand,  or  wordless  desires  born  in  the 
heart? 

There  is  a  change  of  mood.  The  bow  is  lifted  to  the 
point  of  radiant  flight.  The  melody  rises  like  Shel- 
ley's skylark  climbing  the  air  with  voice  and  wing 
challenging  immensity.  One  is  sad  without  knowing 
why.  The  song  is  joyous,  and  yet  nowhere  is  there  a 
loneliness  so  great  as  the  little  bird  in  that  vast  dome 
of  light,  for  the  moment  the  only  actuality  in  the 
universe,  yet  so  slight  a  thing,  a  glimmering  echo  of 
thought,  a  passionate  prayer,  a  dauntless  faith  in 
things  unseen. 

I  think  it  was  Schumann's  ''Song  of  Moonlight" 
that  Heifetz  played. 

Godowsky,  too,  has  played  for  me.  With  my  hands 
on  the  piano  while  he  played  one  of  Chopin's 


VARIED  CHORDS  287 

Nocturnes,  I  was  transported  on  a  magic  carpet  to  a 
tropical  island  in  one  of  Conrad's  mysterious  seas. 

Sometimes  I  have  listened  to  concerts  over  the 
radio,  placing  my  fingers  lightly  on  a  resonant 
board.  Lovely  to  my  touch  is  the  music  of 
different  instruments — the  harp,  the  cornet,  the 
oboe,  the  deep-voiced  viola,  the  violin  in  all  its 
singing  moods  and  the  triumphing,  blending  har- 
mony of  all  in  a  chorus  of  sweet  vibrations!  Always 
one  voice  seems  to  leap  from  the  deep  surge  and 
fling  its  notes  like  flower  petals  blown  by  the  wind. 

The  fiire  music  in  'The  Valkyrie"  spreads  exultant 
flames  through  the  orchestra,  now  curling  upward 
swift  and  shrill,  now  clamouring  against  the  sky 
and  now  rolling  back  to  earth  Brunhilde's  bitter 
fate. 

Jazz  has  a  bombarding  sensation  not  pleasant  to 
the  touch,  and  it  is  disturbing  to  the  emotions.  When 
it  is  continued  for  some  time,  I  have  a  wild  impulse 
to  flee  from  something  sinister  that  is  about  to  spring 
upon  me.  I  suppose  it  wakens  primal  emotions — 
quenchless  fears  of  things  wild-eyed  and  savage  .  .  . 
shadow  memories  .  .  .  gigantic  creatures  .  .  . 
sons  and  daughters  of  the  jungle  ...  the  cry  of 
dumb  souls  not  yet  able  to  speak. 


I  have  several  times  been  presented  at  the  Ameri- 
can Court  of  Industry.  I  have  talked  with  men  who 


288 


MIDSTREAM 


have  more  power  than  almost  any  monarch  of  his- 
tory. Some  of  these  men  have  been  my  friends,  others 
I  have  only  met  in  passing.  One  of  the  first  of  my 
friends  among  the  Kings  of  Industry  was  Mr.  John 
Spaulding,  about  whom  I  have  already  written.  An- 
other who  came  early  into  my  life  was  Mr.  H.  H. 
Rogers,  who  made  it  possible  for  me  to  go  to  Rad- 
clifife  College.  I  first  met  him  one  afternoon  at  Mrs. 
Lawrence  Hutton's  when  he  called  with  Mark 
Twain.  Shortly  afterwards  Mrs.  Rogers  invited  Miss 
Sullivan  and  me  to  dinner  at  their  beautiful  home  in 
New  York.  We  saw  both  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Rogers 
frequently  up  to  the  time  of  their  death.  Whenever 
we  passed  through  New  York  we  saw  them,  they 
both  called  upon  us  when  I  was  in  college,  and  Mr. 
Rogers  came  to  see  us  at  Wrentham. 

One  of  the  most  delightful  visits  we  ever 
had  with  him  was  after  my  teacher's  marriage, 
when  he  invited  the  three  of  us  to  Fairhaven, 
where  he  was  spending  the  summer  with  his 
daughter,  Mrs.  Coe,  and  his  grandchildren.  We 
took  a  glorious  sail  on  his  beautiful  yacht,  the 
Kanawaha,  and  I  loved  the  steady,  swift  motion  and 
the  flying  spray.  Most  interestingly,  Mr.  Rogers  de- 
scribed the  coast  and  islands  we  passed.  He  was  so 
pleased  that  Mrs.  Macy  could  see  more  distinctly 
through  his  field-glasses  that  he  presented  them  to 
her.  A  delicious  luncheon  was  served  on  board,  after 


VARIED  CHORDS  289 
which  Mr.  Rogers  insisted  that  we  must  take  a  nap ; 
but  bless  his  heart!  we  could  not  sleep  when  there 
was  so  much  to  see.  We  had  never  been  on  a  private 
yacht  before.  I  had  to  pinch  myself  every  little  while 
to  see  if  I  was  awake  or  dreaming.  Just  as  the  sun 
went  down  the  Kanawaha  floated  up  to  her  pier  like 
a  huge  white  swan.  Mr.  Rogers's  automobile  Was 
waiting  for  us.  There  were  to  be  other  guests  at  din- 
ner, and  it  was  a  scramble  to  get  dressed  in  time. 

After  dinner  we  sat  round  the  fire  and  chatted. 
Mr.  Rogers  talked  naturally  and  simply  on  whatever 
subject  came  up.  At  that  time  Mr.  Lawson  was  at- 
tacking him  in  Everybody's  Magazine.  Mr.  Rogers 
denied  that  the  reported  conversations  between  him- 
self and  Mr.  Lawson  had  any  foundation  in  fact.  We 
talked  of  Mark  Twain,  and  Mr.  Rogers  chuckled 
over  some  of  his  drolleries.  We  also  spoke  of  Mrs. 
Rogers,  who  was  at  Dublin,  New  Hampshire,  at  the 
time.  Mr.  Rogers  said  she  had  one  fault,  she  was 
always  giving  his  old  clothes  away,  so  that  when  he 
wanted  to  go  fishing  he  had  nothing  suitable  to  wear. 
Frequently  Mr.  Rogers  and  I  did  not  agree  on  sub- 
jects of  public  interest,  but  I  always  liked  to  talk 
with  him.  He  was  always  noble  in  bearing  and  win- 
ning in  manner.  Mark  Twain  said  that  he  was  "the 
best-bred  gentleman  I  have  met  on  either  side  of  the 
ocean  in  any  rank  of  life  from  the  Kaiser  of  Ger- 
many down  to  the  bootblack." 


2go  MIDSTREAM 

Next  to  Mr.  Spaulding  and  Mr.  Rogers,  Mr. 
Carnegie  did  most  to  uphold  my  hands  in  what  I 
wanted  to  do.  It  was  the  year  that  I  met  Mr.  Car- 
negie that  I  met  another  royal  personage  in  the  king- 
dom of  industry — Mr.  Thomas  A.  Edison.  He  asked 
me  to  visit  him  when  I  was  lecturing  in  East  Orange, 
New  Jersey. 

He  seemed  to  me  a  man  of  many  idiosyncrasies 
and  moods.  Mrs.  Edison  told  me  that  he  often  stayed 
all  night  in  his  laboratory.  When  he  became  inter- 
ested in  a  problem  nothing  else  existed  for  him  and 
he  was  annoyed  when  someone  interrupted  him  to 
tell  him  it  was  dinner  time. 

He  asked  me  very  particularly  what  I  could  feel 
when  I  placed  my  hands  on  a  victrola.  When  I  told 
him  that  I  could  not  make  out  words  he  tried  to 
focus  the  sounds  under  a  high  silk  hat.  Vibrations 
were  stronger  under  the  hat,  but  the  sounds  were  not 
defined. 

He  told  me  he  thought  deafness  was  an  advantage 
to  him.  "It  is  like  a  high  wall  around  me  which  ex- 
cludes distractions  and  leaves  me  free  to  live  at  peace 
in  my  own  world." 

I  said,  "If  I  were  a  great  inventor  like  you,  Mr. 
Edison,  I  would  invent  an  instrument  that  would 
enable  every  deaf  person  to  hear." 

"You  would,  would  you?"  he  retorted.  "Well,  I 


VARIED  CHORDS  291 

think  it  would  be  a  waste  of  time.  People  say  so  little 
that  is  worth  listening  to." 

I  tried  to  make  him  understand  me  by  putting  my 
mouth  close  to  his  ear.  He  said  my  voice  was  very 
unpleasant— like  steam  exploding,  and  that  he  got 
only  the  consonants.  ^'Get  Mrs.  Macy  to  tell  me  what 
you  have  to  say,"  he  commanded,  ^'her  voice  is  like 
velvet." 

"The  trouble  with  people  is,"  he  remarked,  "they 
are  all  alike.  I  doubt  if  their  parents  could  tell  them 
apart  when  they  grow  up." 

"They  are  not  alike  to  me,"  I  said.  "Everyone 
has  a  particular  person-odour  different  from  every- 
body else's." 

"That  may  be,"  he  said,  "I  never  noticed  it." 

It  was  on  a  lecture  tour  also  that  I  first  met  Mr. 
Ford.  We  stopped  for  a  few  days  in  Detroit  on  our 
way  home  from  Nebraska,  where  I  had  been  speak- 
ing against  preparedness.  I  expressed  a  wish  to  visit 
the  Ford  motor  plant,  and  if  possible  to  meet  the 
great  organizer  of  that  industry.  Accordingly,  we 
went  to  the  plant  in  the  afternoon.  We  had  to  wait 
some  time  before  Mr.  Ford  could  see  us,  but  when 
he  did  appear,  the  pleasure  I  had  in  making  his 
acquaintance  was  worth  waiting  for.  His  handshake 
was  quiet  and  full  of  what  I  call  reserve  energy.  Mr. 
Ford  showed  us  over  the  plant,  and  I  shall  never 


292  MIDSTREAM 

forget  the  alertness  of  his  hands  that  seemed  eyes 
as  he  guided  my  awkward  fingers  through  the  in- 
tricacies of  the  huge  dynamo  which  runs  the  plant. 

He  talked  with  pleasant  simplicity  about  his  suc- 
cess. He  told  how  he  had  conceived  the  idea  of  a  car 
that  the  farmers  could  afford  to  buy,  and  then  found 
out  how  to  make  it.  "The  trouble  with  many  people 
who  have  ideas,"  he  said,  "is  that  they  don't  know 
what  to  do  with  them.  It  is  all  well  to  have  ideas ;  but 
what  are  they  worth  if  one  doesn't  know  how  to  go 
about  embodying  them  in  actual  service?" 

A  visit  to  the  Ford  plant  gives  one  much  to  medi- 
tate upon.  I  have  tried  to  imagine  what  the  world 
would  be  like  if  it  were  all  run  like  the  Ford  plant, 
with  Mr.  Ford  as  world  dictator.  Many  things  would 
be  better.  There  would  be  a  shorter  working  day  and 
higher  wages.  Mankind  would  have  leisure  un- 
dreamed of  now.  Men  would  spend  a  part  of  the  day 
providing  food,  clothes,  and  shelter,  and  insurance 
against  old  age,  and  still  have  four  or  five  hours  to 
devote  to  their  families,  to  education,  or  to  recreation. 
It  would  give  the  workers  the  economic  freedom 
which  is  the  starting  point  of  all  other  freedom. 

At  first  flush  the  Ford  idea  looks  wonderful.  It 
seems  as  if  this  "hard-headed"  business  man  had 
found  the  high  road  to  Utopia.  But  memory  flashes  a 
picture  on  the  mind  of  the  thousands  of  men  at  the 
Ford  plant  working  in  perfect  unison,  like  a  mar- 


VARIED  CHORDS  293 

vellous  mechanism,  each  man  a  tiny  cog  or  screw  or 
shaft  in  the  machine,  and  one  wonders  if,  when  the 
machine  is  dismembered,  the  human  parts  will  be 
capable  of  enjoying  the  blessings  of  Utopia,  or  will 
their  brains  have  become  so  mummified  that  they 
will  prefer  to  remain  parts  of  the  machine? 

The  year  after  this  visit  to  Detroit  Mr.  Ford  in- 
vited me  to  be  his  guest  on  the  Oscar.  I  declined, 
because  if  I  went,  I  should  be  obliged  to  cancel  a 
number  of  lecture  engagements,  and  I  felt  that  the 
service  I  might  render  on  such  an  expedition  would 
not  justify  me  in  disappointing  my  audiences.  It 
seemed  to  me  Mr.  Ford's  significance  lay  in  what 
he  had  accomplished  in  the  field  of  industry  rather 
than  in  international  diplomacy.  I  felt  that,  had  he 
brought  the  same  engineer-mind  to  the  affairs  of  the 
world  that  he  did  to  affairs  of  his  workshop,  the 
"Peace  Ship"  would  never  have  sailed. 

My  next  connection  with  the  Ford  family  came 
ten  years  later,  when  I  was  again  in  Detroit.  When  I 
was  speaking  for  the  blind  at  the  memorable  meet- 
ing which  I  have  already  described,  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Henry  Ford  and  Edsel  Ford  contributed  ten 
thousand  dollars  each.  I  had  another  pleasant  sur- 
prise when  Mr.  Ford  informed  me  that  he  em- 
ployed seventy-three  blind  men  in  his  plants,  not  be- 
cause he  pitied  them,  but  because  they  were  capable 
of  doing  their  work  efficiently. 


294  MIDSTREAM 

It  is  pleasant  to  record  the  Fords'  interest  in  the 
blind,  for  sometimes  during  our  campaign  we  have 
been  greatly  disappointed  at  the  unreadiness  of  cer- 
tain extremely  rich  people  to  respond.  Mingled  with 
the  fragrance  of  blossoms,  the  sweet  strains  of  music, 
the  gracious  hospitality  and  expressions  of  kindness 
there  were  tears  of  regret  at  the  strange  contradic- 
tions of  human  nature.  Grotesque  things  sometimes 
fall  out  of  fat  pocketbooks,  but  if  I  went  into  that 
I  should  stir  up  a  hornet's  nest  indeed! 


Chapter  XVIII 
I  GO  ADVENTURING 

Cut  off  as  I  am,  it  is  inevitable  that  I  should  some- 
times feel  like  a  shadow  walking  in  a  shadowy  world. 
When  this  happens  I  ask  to  be  taken  to  New  York 
City.  Always  I  return  home  weary  but  I  have  the 
comforting  certainty  that  mankind  is  real  flesh  and 
I  myself  am  not  a  dream. 

In  order  to  get  to  New  York  from  my  home  it  is 
necessary  to  cross  one  of  the  great  bridges  that  sepa- 
rate Manhattan  from  Long  Island.  The  oldest  and 
most  interesting  of  them  is  the  Brooklyn  Bridge, 
built  by  my  friend.  Colonel  Roebling,  but  the  one  I 
cross  oftenest  is  the  Queensborough  Bridge  at  59th 
Street.  How  often  I  have  had  Manhattan  de- 
scribed to  me  from  these  bridges !  They  tell  me  the 
view  is  loveliest  in  the  morning  and  at  sunset  when 
one  sees  the  skyscrapers  rising  like  fairy  palaces, 
their  million  windows  gleaming  in  the  rosy-tinted 
atmosphere. 

I  like  to  feel  that  all  poetry  is  not  between  the 
covers  of  poetry  books,  that  much  of  it  is  written  in 
great  enterprises  of  engineering  and  flying,  that  into 
mighty  utility  man  has  poured  and  is  pouring  his 

m 


296  MIDSTREAM 

dreams,  his  emotions,  his  philosophy.  This  mate- 
rializing of  his  genius  is  sometimes  inchoate  and 
monstrous,  but  even  then  sublime  in  its  extravagance 
and  courage.  Who  can  deny  that  the  Queensborough 
Bridge  is  the  v^ork  of  a  creative  artist?  It  never  fails 
to  give  me  a  poignant  desire  to  capture  the  noble 
cadence  of  its  music.  To  my  friends  I  say: 

Behold  its  liberal  loveliness  of  length — • 

A  flowing  span  from  shore  to  shore, 

A  brimming  reach  of  beauty  matched  with  strength, 

It  shines  and  climbs  like  some  miraculous  dream, 

Like  some  vision  multitudinous  and  agleam, 

A  passion  of  desire  held  captive  in  the  clasp  of  vast  utility. 

New  York  has  a  special  interest  for  me  v^hen  it 
is  wrapped  in  fog.  Then  it  behaves  very  much  like  a 
blind  person.  I  once  crossed  from  Jersey  City  to 
Manhattan  in  a  dense  fog.  The  ferry-boat  felt  its 
way  cautiously  through  the  river  traffic.  More  timid 
than  a  blind  man,  its  horn  brayed  incessantly.  Fog- 
bound, surrounded  by  menacing,  unseen  craft  and 
dangers,  it  halted  every  now  and  then  as  a  blind  man 
halts  at  a  crowded  thoroughfare  crossing,  tapping  his 
cane,  tense  and  anxious. 

One  of  my  never-to-be-forgotten  experiences  was 
circumnavigating  New  York  in  a  boat.  The  trip  took 
all  day.  I  had  with  me  four  people  who  could  use 
the  hand  alphabet— my  teacher,  my  sister,  my  niece, 
and  Mr.  Holmes.  One  who  has  not  seen  New  York 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  297 

in  this  way  would  be  amazed  at  the  number  of  people 
who  live  on  the  water.  Someone  has  called  them 
"harbour  gypsies."  Their  homes  are  on  boats — whole 
fleets  of  them,  decorated  with  flower  boxes  and 
bright-coloured  awnings.  It  is  amusing  to  note  how 
many    of    these    stumbling,    awkward  harbour 
gypsies  have  pretty  feminine  names — Bella,  Flora- 
dora,  Rosalind,  Pearl  of  the  Deep,  Minnehaha, 
Sister  Nell.  The  occupants  can  be  seen  going  about 
their  household  tasks — cooking,  washing,  sewing, 
gossiping  from  one  barge  to  another,  and  there  is  a 
flood  of  smells  which  gives  eyes  to  the  mind.  The 
children  and  dogs  play  on  the  tiny  deck,  and  chase 
each  other  into  the  water,  where  they  are  perfectly 
at  home.  These  water-babies  are  familiar  with  all 
manner  of  craft,  they  know  what  countries  they  come 
from,  and  what  cargoes  they  carry.  There  are  brick 
barges  from  Holland  and  fruitboats  coming  in  from 
Havana,  and  craft  loaded  with  meat,  cobblestones, 
and  sand  push  their  way  up  bays  and  canals.  There 
are  old  ships  which  have  been  stripped  of  their 
majesty  and  doomed  to  follow  tow  ropes  up  and 
down  the  harbour.  These  ships  make  me  think  of  old 
blind  people  led  up  and  down  the  city  streets.  There 
are  aristocratic  craft  from  Albany,  Nyack,  Newburg. 
There  are  also  boats  from  New  London  and  Boston, 
from  the  Potomac  and  Baltimore  and  Virginia,  from 
Portland,  Maine,  bringing  terra  cotta  to  Manhattan. 


298  MIDSTREAM 

Here  comes  the  fishing  fleet  from  Gloucester  hurry- 
ing past  the  barge  houses,  and  crawling,  coal-laden 
tramps.  Tracking  the  turmoil  in  every  direction  are 
the  saucy  ferry  boats,  bellowing  rudely  to  everyone 
to  get  out  of  the  way. 

It  is  a  sail  of  vivid  contrast — up  the  Hudson  be- 
tween green  hills,  past  the  stately  mansions  of  River- 
side Drive,  through  the  narrow  straits  that  separate 
Manhattan  from  the  mainland,  into  Harlem  and  the 
East  River,  past  Welfare  Island,  where  a  great  mod- 
ern city  shelters  its  human  derelicts,  on  to  the  welter 
of  downtown  docks,  where  longshoremen  heave  the 
barge  cargoes  ashore,  and  the  crash  of  traffic  is  deaf- 
ening, and  back  to  your  pier  in  the  moonlight  when 
the  harbour  gypsies  sleep  and  the  sense  of  peace  is 
balm  to  the  tired  nerves. 

As  I  walk  up  Broadway,  the  people  that  brush  past 
me  seem  always  hastening  toward  a  destination  they 
never  reach.  Their  motions  are  eager,  as  if  they  said, 
"We  are  on  our  way,  we  shall  arrive  in  a  moment." 
They  keep  up  the  pace — they  almost  run.  Each  on  his 
quest  intent,  in  endless  procession  they  pass,  tragic, 
grotesque,  gay,  they  all  sweep  onward  like  rain  fall- 
ing upon  leaves.  I  wonder  where  they  are  going.  I 
puzzle  my  brain;  but  the  mystery  is  never  solved. 
Will  they  at  last  come  somewhere?  Will  anybody 
be  waiting  for  them?  The  march  never  ceases.  Their 
feet  have  worn  the  pavements  unevenly.  I  wish  I 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  299 
knew  where  they  are  going.  Some  are  nonchalant, 
some  walk  with  their  eyes  on  the  ground,  others  step 
lightly,  as  if  they  might  fly  if  their  wings  were  not 
bound  by  the  multitude.  A  pale  little  woman  is  guid- 
ing the  steps  of  a  blind  man.  His  great  hand  drags 
on  her  arm.  Awkwardly  he  shortens  his  stride  to  her 
gait.  He  trips  when  the  curb  is  uneven;  his  grip 
tightens  on  the  arm  of  the  woman.  Where  are  they 
going? 

Like  figures  in  a  meaningless  pageant,  they  pass. 
There  are  young  girls  laughing,  loitering.  They  have 
beauty,  youth,  lovers.  They  look  in  the  shop  windows, 
they  look  at  the  huge  winking  signs ;  they  jostle  the 
crowds,  their  feet  keep  time  to  the  music  of  their 
hearts.  They  must  be  going  to  a  pleasant  place.  I 
think  I  should  like  to  go  where  they  are  going. 

Tremulously  I  stand  in  the  subways,  absorbed  into 
the  terrible  reverberations  of  exploding  energy.  Fear- 
ful, I  touch  the  forest  of  steel  girders  loud  with  the 
thunder  of  oncoming  trains  that  shoot  past  me  like 
projectiles.  Inert  I  stand,  riveted  in  my  place.  My 
limbs,  paralyzed,  refuse  to  obey  the  will  insistent  on 
haste  to  board  the  train  while  the  lightning  steed  is 
leashed  and  its  reeling  speed  checked  for  a  moment. 
Before  my  mind  flashes  in  clairvoyant  vision  what  all 
this  speed  portends— the  lightning  crashing  into  life, 
the  accidents,  railroad  wrecks,  steam  bursting  free 
like  geysers  from  bands  of  steel,  thousands  of  racing 


300  MIDSTREAM 

motors  and  children  caught  at  play,  flying  heroes 
diving  into  the  sea,  dying  for  speed — all  this  because 
of  strange,  unsatisfied  ambitions.  Another  train  bursts 
into  the  station  like  a  volcano,  the  people  crov^d  me 
on,  on  into  the  chasm — into  the  dark  depths  of  av^ful 
forces  and  fates.  In  a  fev^  minutes,  still  trembling,  I 
am  spilled  into  the  streets. 

After  the  turmoil  of  the  city  it  is  a  joy  to  rush 
back  to  my  little  garden.  My  garden  is  a  humble 
place — a  rustic  nook,  a  hut  of  green.  One  friend  says 
it  is  more  like  a  nest  than  a  garden.  Another  calls  it 
"the  philosopher's  garden,"  because  it  is  so  v^alled 
in  on  all  sides  and  so  narrov^,  but  at  the  same  time 
so  high  that  it  reaches  the  stars.  For  me  it  is  a  shelter 
from  the  bustling  w^orld,  a  place  to  meditate  in,  a 
sweet,  tranquil  haunt  of  birds,  bees,  and  butterflies, 
a  realm  of  peace  v^here  a  restless  spirit  often  escapes 
from  the  buffetings  of  life,  a  secret  confessional  where 
my  besetting  sins  are  repented.  It  matters  not  at 
v^hat  hour  I  enter  my  garden,  v^hether  in  the  cool 
pure  dav^n  v^hen  the  golden  gates  of  the  sun  open, 
and  the  first  rustle  of  leaves  stirs  to  consciousness  the 
bird  in  its  nest,  disperses  the  mists  and  dev^s  from  the 
sleeping  flov^ers,  and  each  flower  uncurls  its  petals 
and  lifts  its  face  to  the  beauty  of  the  day;  or  in  the 
noonday,  when  all  the  banners  of  life  are  unfurled 
and  the  sun's  rays  turn  everything  to  splendour ;  or  in 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  301 

the  magical  stillness  of  evening  when  shadows  steal 
across  my  path  with  soundless  feet,  and  I  sense  ''a 
folding  of  a  world  of  wings"  and  down  in  the  dusk 
of  the  grass  fireflies  light  their  glow-lamps,  I  am 
filled  with  infinite  gladness,  and  my  heart  sings  the 
praise  of  the  Creator  who  out  of  space  and  eternity 
made  this  little  place  for  me,  and  sent  the  flowers  to 
be  my  comforters. 

I  enjoy  my  garden  in  all  weathers.  Even  winter- 
time has  its  own  sport  and  charm  for  me.  As  I 
walk  briskly  along,  the  wind  shakes  the  snow  down 
upon  me  from  the  hedge.  Every  few  minutes  I  pull 
off  my  gloves  to  revel  in  the  touch  of  congealed  love- 
liness on  the  trees  and  bushes — wondrous  forms 
which  God  has 

Insculped  and  embossed 
With  His  hammer  of  wind, 
And  His  graver  of  frost. 

Usually  I  find  the  green  circle  of  trees  which  sur- 
rounds my  walk  without  the  slightest  difficulty  by 
going  from  the  steps  along  a  cement  path  that  turns 
off  abruptly  at  the  right,  but  when  the  snow  is  deep 
all  paths  are  obliterated,  so  that  there  is  no  uneven- 
ness  of  the  ground  to  guide  my  feet,  and  I  get  com- 
pletely lost;  but  the  adventure  of  blundering  into 
every  place  but  the  right  one  gives  me  a  good  laugh 
or  two  before  I  successfully  orientate  myself  beside 


302  MIDSTREAM 

the  hedge,  and  Mark  Twain's  felicitous  words  form  a 
sprightly  accompaniment  to  my  steps.  For  I  feel  like 
Sandy  when  the  Connecticut  Yankee  asked  her, 
"Whereabouts  does  the  castle  lie?  What  is  the  direc- 
tion from  here?"  and  she  replied,  "Ah  please  you, 
sir,  it  hath  no  direction  from  here;  by  reason  that 
the  road  lieth  not  straight,  but  turneth  evermore; 
wherefore  the  direction  of  its  place  abideth  not,  but 
is  sometimes  under  the  one  sky  and  anon  under  an- 
other, whereso  if  ye  be  minded  that  it  is  in  the 
east,  and  wend  thitherward,  ye  shall  observe  that  the 
way  of  the  road  doth  yet  again  turn  upon  itself  by 
the  space  of  half  a  circle.  ...  It  were  woundily 
hard  to  tell  [the  leagues  I  have  walked],  they  are  so 
many,  and  do  so  lap  the  one  upon  the  other,  and 
being  made  all  in  the  same  image  and  tincted  with 
the  same  colour,  one  may  not  know  the  one  league 
from  its  fellow,  nor  how  to  count  them  except  they  be 
taken  apart." 

It  is  when  the  book  of  the  year  opens  at  the  page 
of  June  that  I  want  to  drop  my  work,  whatever  it 
may  be,  and  enter  the  Kingdom  of  Delight.  It  is  then 
that  Nature  receives  the  spring  flowers  at  her  Court, 
and  each  perfect  day  brings  new  beauties  to  grace  the 
fete. 

June,-time  within  the  circle  of  evergreens  that 
shields  my  garden  is  a  wondrous  woof  of  odourS 
— evergreens  and  marsh-grass  threaded  with  the  scent 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  303 

of  lilac  and  laurel.  Bright-hued  flowers  march  be- 
side me  and  hold  up  lovely  faces  to  me.  Where  the 
grass  grows  softest,  the  violets  open  their  blue  eyes 
and  look  at  me  wonderingly.  I  call  them  dream 
flowers,  because  I  always  see  them  growing  in  the 
Garden  of  Sleep — violets  and  lilies  of  the  valley. 
The  honeysuckle  trails  over  the  privet  wall,  blessing 
every  breeze  with  its  fragrance.  The  weigelas  reach 
out  wraithlike  arms  to  embrace  me.  When  I  push 
them  aside  to  pass,  how  the  winged  plunderers  of 
their  sweets  scatter  in  the  sunshine !  Tall  irises  from 
Japan  and  Germany  display  their  exquisite  gowns 
across  the  ribbon-like  trails  which  the  gardener  has 
made  around  the  summer  house.  In  one  corner  of  my 
garden  there  is  a  clump  of  old-fashioned  lilacs.  In 
June  the  boughs  are  weighted  with  loveliness,  and 
heart-penetrating  odour — oh,  nobody  has  ever  put 
it  into  words ! 

All  through  May  and  early  June  a  flaming  tide  of 
tulips  spreads  over  the  lawn,  with  here  and  there  an 
island  of  daffodils  and  hyacinths.  If  I  touch  one  of 
them,  lo,  a  lily  is  born  in  my  hands!  As  far  as  my 
arms  can  reach,  the  same  miracle  has  been  wrought. 
Love,  which  fulfils  itself  in  giving  life,  has  taken 
possession  of  my  Eden. 

One  day  a  few  summers  ago  two  robins  decided 
to  live  in  my  dogwood  tree,  which  was  all  tremulous 
with  white  blossoms.  It  is  one  of  the  trees  which  bor- 


304  MIDSTREAM 

der  my  green  circle.  Morning  and  evening,  as  I  pass 
it  again  and  again,  I  reach  up  to  touch  the  branches. 
The  robins  went  about  the  business  of  life  with 
singleness  of  purpose.  They  did  not  seem  to  mind  me. 
At  first,  when  I  put  up  my  hand  to  touch  the 
branches,  they  would  fly  off  to  a  near-by  tree  and 
watch  me  attentively,  but  they  soon  became  accus- 
tomed to  me.  I  brought  them  food  and  in  my  awk- 
ward human  way  tried  to  tell  them  I  was  a  friend, 
and  had  no  evil  intentions  toward  them.  They  seemed 
to  understand ;  anyway,  they  came  and  were  quite  in- 
different to  my  doings.  I  would  stand  perfectly  still 
for  a  long  time  with  my  hand  on  the  branch,  and 
often  I  was  rewarded  by  feeling  the  leaves  quiver 
and  the  twigs  bend  ever  so  slightly.  Once  I  sensed 
a  commotion  very  close  to  my  hand,  and  a  few  days 
later  I  felt  a  tiny  claw  pinch  my  finger.  It  was  not 
many  days  before  the  male  bird  lit  squarely  upon  my 
hand,  and  after  that  there  was  perfect  understanding 
between  us.  A  bird  doesn't  stay  long  on  one's  hand 
without  saying  something.  My  new  bird-friend  be- 
gan to  twitter;  he  hopped  back  and  forth  on  the 
branch,  telling  his  mate  about  me,  I  suppose.  When 
the  eggs  were  hatched,  she  came  way  out  on  the 
branch  to  take  a  good  look  at  me.  She  must  have  con- 
cluded that  I  was  harmless,  for  she  flew  away  on  a 
foraging  expedition,  leaving  her  little  ones  at  my 
mercy. 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  305 

Toward  the  end  of  the  summer  Elizabeth  Garrett 
came  to  see  me.  We  were  chatting  in  my  study.  A 
thunderstorm  came  up  suddenly,  and  the  rain  began 
to  beat  in.  Elizabeth  went  to  close  the  windows.  As 
she  did  so,  she  heard  a  plaintive  bird-cry,  and,  catch- 
ing my  hand,  drew  me  to  the  window.  ^'I  believe," 
she  said,  "a  bird  is  beating  its  wings  against  the 
screen."  It  was  difficult  in  the  rain  to  raise  the  screen ; 
but  we  succeeded,  and  there,  clinging  to  the  vines 
which  had  clambered  over  the  sill,  was  my  little 
Robin  Hood !  He  fluttered  into  my  outstretched  hand. 
He  was  limp  and  dripping  wet.  After  he  dried  off 
a  bit,  he  began  to  fly  about  the  room,  scrutinizing 
everything  with  his  inquisitive  little  eyes.  When  the 
shower  ceased,  we  took  him  to  the  window,  but  he 
did  not  seem  to  want  to  leave  us.  His  sharp  claws 
pinched  my  finger,  he  tilted  his  body,  as  though  he 
would  say,  "I  am  satisfied,  why  do  you  want  me  to 
go?"  I  put  him  down  on  the  sill,  and  he  flew  back 
into  the  room.  We  managed  to  catch  him,  and  again 
I  put  him  outside  the  screen,  and  again  he  flew  back 
into  the  study.  This  time  he  hid  under  the  couch,  and 
we  could  not  find  him.  We  had  to  get  someone  with 
eyes  to  dig  him  out.  He  hopped  on  the  windowsill 
from  one  side  to  the  other,  cocking  his  head  this 
way  and  that,  soliloquizing,  I  thought.  "Oh,  which 
do  I  prefer?  Do  I  prefer  you  or  yonder  tree?  Shall 
I  stay  here,  or  go  on  and  on,  away,  away,  away?  Oh, 


3o6  MIDSTREAM 

my  heart  reaches  out  both  ways  with  such  contrary 
desires!"  At  last  he  slowly  spread  his  wings  and  un- 
willingly sailed  away  on  the  freshly  washed  air.  He 
has  never  returned  to  the  dogwood  tree  or  my  hand. 

Of  all  things  that  grow  in  my  garden  I  love  best 
the  evergreens.  What  a  beautiful  way  they  have  of 
entering  into  relations  with  human  beings!  How 
readily  they  harmonize  the  wild  nature  of  their  forest 
kindred  with  our  domestic  habits,  and  how  subtly 
yet  powerfully  they  influence  us  while  we  set  bounds 
to  their  growth.  Always  beautiful,  they  seem  to  draw 
out  of  us  spiritual  loveliness  akin  to  their  own. 

The  evergreens  which  grow  on  one  side  of  my 
garden  walk  seem  to  know  me  as  I  know  them.  They 
stretch  out  their  branches  like  hands  to  me  and  tease 
me  and  pull  my  hair  whenever  I  pass  them.  In  the 
springtime,  when  the  world  swims  with  odours  of 
life,  they  bend  toward  me  like  friends  full  of  glad 
news.  They  try  to  tell  me  what  it  is  but  I  cannot 
always  make  out  what  they  are  saying.  I  imagine 
they  are  asking  each  other  why  human  creatures 
move  from  place  to  place,  unstable  as  water,  and  as 
the  wind  that  is  always  in  motion.  "Look!"  they 
say,  pointing  their  sharp  little  fingers,  "look  how  she 
is  going  in  and  out  among  the  flowers,  like  the  moths 
the  wind  is  blowing  away  out  of  sight." 

If  I  could  fathom  that  murmur,  that  sigh,  I  should 
fathom  the  depths  of  consciousness  of  my  evergreens. 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  307 
I  do  not  know  whether  they  speak  of  the  future,  but 
I  am  positive  they  could  reveal  the  past.  I  should 
find  out  the  whence  and  the  how  of  things  that  hap- 
pened centuries  ago.  They  could  tell  me  what  they 
have  fared  through  in  the  immortality  that  lies  be- 
hind them.  I  have  felt  the  rings  buried  in  trees- 
rings  of  the  many  seasons  of  births  and  deaths  they 
died  to  reach  this  life.  Why  this  thirst  to  rise  higher? 
Why  this  love  of  stars  and  sun  and  clouds?  Why 
this  sense  of  duty  to  the  earth,  this  fixity  of  purpose, 
this  inward  soul  that  remembers  and  sighs?  As  I 
stand  beside  my  evergreens  they  whisper  "All  that 
is  you  has  always  been,  and  will  always  be.  Every 
atom  and  every  impulse  of  you  began  in  eternity 
with  us,  and  with  us  will  return  into  eternity." 

Oh,  when  my  spirit  is  sore  fretted  by  the  thought 
of  the  unhappiness  in  the  world,  it  soothes  me  to  walk 
back  and  forth  beside  my  evergreens.  I  feel  like  a 
flower  after  a  night's  frost,  when  it  steadies  itself 
on  its  stem  and  looks  up  again  to  the  sky  with 
brave  hope.  And  ever  as  I  walk  round  my  green 
circle,  I  seem  to  hear  the  song  of  the  roots  down  in 
the  ground,  cheerily  toiling  in  the  dark.  They  never 
see  the  lovely  work  they  have  wrought.  Hidden  away 
in  darkness  they  bring  forth  flowers  of  light!  Little 
and  despised  are  they;  but  oh,  mighty  is  their  power 
to  create  flower  and  tree!  I  think  of  them  no  less  lov- 
ingly because  they  are  out  of  reach  of  my  hand. 


3o8  MIDSTREAM 

As  I  walk  round  and  round  the  green  circle,  rain- 
wet  winds  fleck  filmy  spray  in  my  face.  From  far-off 
shores  come  sweet  memories  which  surge  and  sigh 
like  surf  breaking  on  invisible  sands.  They  send  a 
spray  of  whispers  through  my  mind— 'Home! 
South-land!"  "Mother."  "Father."  My  heart  gropes 
in  the  throbbing  darkness  for  the  dear  hands  that 
long  ago  caressed  me  and  guided  my  faltering  steps. 
Words  spelled  by  tiny,  irresolute  hands  make  me 
smile.  They  are  so  real,  I  almost  feel  my  baby  sister 
pressing  against  my  knee. 

The  warm  winds  of  Alabama  flit  between  me  and 
the  years.  My  brother  Phillips  is  lisping,  his  baby 
voice  tapping  lightly  against  my  finger-tips,  "Sis 
Helen,  please  play  horse  with  me."  So  many  years 
I  sleep  and  wake  and  sleep  again ;  but  memory  gives 
back  the  kisses  that  brushed  my  cheek  and  the  hands 
that  brought  me  violets  and  the  first  ripe  strawberry. 
O  the  preciousness  of  all  things  that  are  "beautiful 
for  being  old  and  gone."  O  the  young  days  wreathed 
in  jessamine  and  rose-scented,  full  of  frolic  and  the 
din  of  mocking  birds  beating  at  the  gates  of  Para- 
dise I 

O  south  winds,  blow  leagues  and  leagues  beyond 
the  bars  of  night,  or  you'll  have  the  heart  out  of  my 
breast  with  your  sighs  over  the  changes  and  the  dis- 
tances! The  world  is  wide  to  roam,  yet  my  thoughts 
are  all  for  taking  the  path  the  south  winds  have 


l,tY'V.V.«-T.«TX. 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  309 
come.  At  the  end  of  that  path  my  loved  ones  are  wait- 
ing for  me— Mildred  and  Warren,  Phillips  and 
Ravia,   Katherine,   Patricia   and   little  Mildred, 
Brooks  and  baby  Katherine.  Names— names,  yet 
how  sweet  they  sound  in  the  ear  of  my  heart!  I  am 
coming  home,  children  dear,  to  hide  myself  from 
work  and  cares  behind  the  arras  of  your  gay  laugh- 
ter! You  shall  do  with  me  as  you  will  in  merry  wise, 
and  I  shall  forget  for  a  brief  space  the  cares  of  the 
grown-up  world ! 

Winds  of  the  South,  you  have  brought  me  pain 
and  joy  in  one  breath!  But  you  have  poured  your 
changeless  sweetness  upon  my  weary  head  and 
quieted  the  restless  roaming  of  my  mind. 

All  of  us  need  to  go  often  into  the  woods  alone 
and  sit  in  silence  at  the  feet  of  Nature.  A  few  years 
ago  I  persuaded  my  conscience  to  turn  its  back 
upon  prosaic  tasks  and  go  pleasuring  in  the  open  for 
two  months.  Mrs.  Macy  and  Edna  Porter  went  with 
me.  Our  automobile  was  equipped  with  a  tent,  a 
small  gasoline  stove,  an  ice  box,  and  last  but  not  least, 
Sieglinde,  whose  business  it  was  to  strike  terror  into 
the  hearts  of  wandering  Robin  Hoods  and  other 
mtruders.  One  of  our  camping  spots  was  a  pasture 
in  the  Berkshires  where  a  brook  laughed  and  romped. 
We  were  awakened  in  the  morning  by  a  herd  of 
cows.  I  touched  their  glossy  coats  and  wet  noses  as 
they  investigated  our  bivouac,  and  if  they  objected 


3IO  MIDSTREAM 

to  this  familiarity  they  kept  their  thoughts  to  them- 
selves. Another  spot  I  loved  v^as  a  pine  wood  near 
Lake  Champlain.  One  night  v^e  pitched  our  tent  in 
a  great  hay  field  out  of  Montreal  which  we  called 
Stormfield  because  just  after  we  had  settled  for  the 
night  a  tempest  burst  upon  us.  We  followed  the  St. 
Lawrence  from  Montreal  to  Quebec,  from  Quebec 
we  came  down  through  Maine  and  camped  on  the 
Kennebec  River.  Logs  were  being  floated  down  from 
Moosehead  Lake  to  sawmills  farther  along.  In  order 
to  get  a  sense  of  what  the  river  was  like  I  crawled 
into  it,  keeping  my  body  out  of  the  reach  of  the  logs 
and  clinging  to  the  rocks.  The  current  turned  me 
over  and  over  like  a  leaf,  but  I  managed  to  touch 
some  of  the  logs  as  they  shot  past,  and  the  sense  of 
adventure  was  delightful. 

We  returned  home  slowly  by  way  of  the  White 
Mountains  and  the  Adirondacks.  In  New  Hampshire 
we  camped  on  the  top  of  a  hill  near  Lake  Winnipe- 
saukee  because  the  other  members  of  the  party  liked 
the  view.  But  before  the  night  was  over  we  discov- 
ered that  a  fine  landscape  does  not  make  a  fine  camp. 
A  demoniacal  wind  sprang  up  which  was  soon  rein- 
forced by  a  whole  army  of  marauding  winds  which 
seemed  bent  on  tearing  the  tent  to  shreds.  Finally 
they  did  lift  it,  and  would  have  carried  it  off  bodily 
if  we  had  not  each  grasped  a  rope  and  held  on  with 
might  and  main.  Sieglinde  howled  like  the  winds 


I  GO  ADVENTURING  311 

themselves.  At  daybreak  we  wrapped  ourselves  in 
blankets,  chucked  the  tent  into  the  car  and  made  our 
escape,  with  never  a  backward  look  at  the  beautiful 
view  that  had  lured  us  into  that  battlefield  of  the 
winds.  When  we  reached  a  sheltered  spot  we  made 
coffee,  rested  a  little,  dressed,  and  continued  on  our 
way. 

The  most  wonderful  camp  of  all  was  in  the  very 
heart  of  the  Adirondacks,  where  the  shade  was  so 
dense  that  noonday  seemed  like  midnight.  We  slept 
on  a  bed  of  firs,  by  the  side  of  a  log  fire  which 
burned  all  night.  From  the  Adirondacks  we  dropped 
into  the  Catskills  and  down  the  Hudson  back  to 
New  York. 

People  sometimes  express  surprise  that  I  enjoy  the 
out-of-doors.  But  God  has  put  much  of  his  work  in 
raised  print.  The  sweet  voices  of  the  earth  reach  me 
through  other  avenues  than  hearing  and  sight.  When 
I  am  in  the  woods  I  love  to  put  out  my  hand  and 
catch  the  rustling  tread  of  small  creatures  in  the 
leaves. 

I  love  to  follow  dark  roads  that  smell  of  moss  and 
wet  grasses,  hill  roads  and  deep  valley  roads  so  nar- 
row that  the  trees  and  bushes  touch  me  as  I  pass. 

I  love  to  stand  on  a  little  bridge  and  feel  the  brook 
flowing  under  it  with  minnows  in  her  hands. 

I  love  to  sit  on  a  fallen  tree  so  long  that  the  shy 
wood-things  forget  it  may  be  imprudent  to  step  on 


312  MIDSTREAM 

my  toes,  and  the  dimpling  cascade  throws  water- 
spray  in  my  face.  With  body  still  and  observant,  I 
hear  myriad  sounds  that  I  understand — leaf  sounds, 
grass  sounds,  and  twigs  creaking  faintly  when  birds 
alight  on  them,  and  grass  swaying  when  insects' 
wings  brush  it,  and  the  thistle's  silvery  flutter.  These 
sounds  I  hear,  yet  my  way  is  still. 


Chapter  XIX 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS 

More  than  at  any  other  time,  when  I  hold  a  beloved 
book  in  my  hand  my  limitations  fall  from  me,  my 
spirit  is  free.  Books  are  my  compensation  for  the 
harms  of  fate.  They  give  me  a  world  for  a  lost  world, 
and  for  mortals  who  have  disappointed  me  they  give 
me  gods. 

I  cannot  take  space  to  name  here  all  the  books 
that  have  enriched  my  life,  but  there  are  a  few  that 
I  cannot  pass  over.  The  one  I  have  read  most  is  the 
Bible.  I  have  read  and  reread  it  until  in  many  parts 
the  pages  have  faded  out — I  mean,  my  fingers  have 
rubbed  off  the  dots,  and  I  must  supply  whole  verses 
from  memory,  especially  the  Psalms,  the  Prophets, 
and  the  Gospels.  To  the  Bible  I  always  go  for  con- 
fidence when  waves  of  doubt  rush  over  me  and  no 
voice  is  near  to  reassure  me. 

In  My  Religion  I  have  written  of  how  Sweden- 
borg  deepened  my  sense  of  the  Lord's  presence  on 
earth.  His  books  have  given  me  a  richer  understand- 
ing of  the  Bible  and  a  precious  sense  of  the  Lord's 
nearness.  They  have  kept  burning  within  me  a  de- 
sire to  be  of  use  and  to  help  prepare  the  way  for  the 

313 


314  MIDSTREAM 

second  coming  of  our  Lord  in  the  lives  of  men.  I 
still  have  The  Divine  Love  and  Wisdom,  Intercourse 
Between  the  Soul  and  the  Body,  and  many  volumes 
of  extracts  from  his  other  books  which  were  copied 
for  me  when  I  was  a  little  girl  by  Mr.  Hitz,  who  was 
the  first  to  open  that  wonderful  window  into  the 
spiritual  world  for  me. 

It  was  while  I  was  still  a  little  girl  that  I  made  the 
acquaintance  of  three  great  American  writers  who 
are  inseparably  linked  in  my  mind.  All  three  opened 
for  me  magic  windows  through  which  I  still  look 
upon  the  universe  and  find  it  "many  splendoured." 
I  mean  Emerson,  Thoreau,  and  Whitman.  Of  the 
three  Whitman  is  my  best  beloved.  He  has  been  an 
inspiration  to  me  in  a  very  special  way.  I  began  to 
read  his  poetry  years  ago  at  a  time  when  I  was 
almost  overwhelmed  by  a  sense  of  isolation  and  self- 
doubt.  It  was  when  I  read  "The  Song  of  the  Open 
Road"  that  my  spirit  leaped  up  to  meet  him.  For 
me  his  verses  have  the  quality  of  exquisite  physical 
sensations.  They  wave  like  flowers,  they  quiver  like 
fountains,  or  rush  on  like  mountain  torrents.  He  sings 
unconquerable  life.  He  is  in  the  middle  of  the  stream. 
He  marches  with  the  world's  thought,  not  against 
it.  To  me  he  seems  incomparably  our  greatest  poet. 
He  is  a  prophet,  a  voice  crying  in  the  wilderness, 
"Prepare  ye  the  way  for  the  new  day."  Leaves 
of  Grass  is  the  true  American  epic  in  the  vastness  of 


i 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS  315 
its  scope,  in  the  completeness  and  beauty  of  its  execu- 
tion. As  the  sea  reflects  the  sky's  immensity,  so 
Leaves  of  Grass  reflects  the  glowing,  potential  soul 
of  America.  He  portrays  America  as  a  young  giantess 
subduing  a  continent,  and  sings  of  her  vastness,  of 
her  resources,  her  multitudinous  activities,  her  un- 
paralleled material  development,  her  commercial- 
ism, her  restlessness,  turmoil,  and  blindness,  her  dull- 
ness and  drudgery,  her  dreams  and  longings,  her  tire- 
less energy,  her  limitless  opportunity.  She  is  law- 
less, rushing  onward,  always  at  extremities.  She  is 
anarchic — she  does  not  walk,  she  runs— she  does  not 
run,  she  flies— she  does  not  fly,  she  falls;  all  this 
Whitman  has  pictured  in  a  way  that,  so  far  as  I 
know,  no  one  else  has  approached. 

I  did  not  know  Whitman  personally,  but  I  knew 
his  friend,  Horace  Traubel,  editor  of  The  Con- 
servator, When  I  came  to  live  in  New  York,  I  met 
him  occasionally  at  meetings  in  memory  of  Whit- 
man. Later  he  came  to  see  us  here  in  Forest  Hills, 
and  we  had  some  delightful  talks  together.  One  of 
the  things  he  said  about  Whitman  that  I  remember 
was,  ''He's  an  age.  As  a  man  he  has  exhausted  his 
vitality,  but  as  an  age  he  is  exhaustless.  The  world 
will  go  on  thinking  about  Whitman  and  getting  new 
lights  on  him  as  long  as  men  continue  to  think  about 
the  age  he  lived  in.  The  mystical  predominates  in 
him.  That  is  why  you  get  so  near  him.  Many  people 


3i6  MIDSTREAM 

miss  him  altogether  because  they  lack  that  sense, 
but  you  could  set  your  net  anywhere  in  Whitman 
and  catch  something  worth  taking  home." 
^  Next  to  Whitman  in  the  American  trio  I  love 
Thoreau.  When  I  read  Thoreau,  I  am  not  conscious 
of  him  or  the  book  or  the  words  which  flow  under 
my  finger-tips,  I  am  There.  Through  him  Nature 
speaks  without  an  interpreter.  He  puts  his  ear  to 
her  breast  and  hears  her  heart  beat;  and  she  speaks 
to  me  in  her  own  voice.  I  am  a  part  of  the  river, 
the  lake,  the  field,  the  woods — I  am  a  spirit  wild  and 
free.  I  see  everything  for  myself,  no  one  interprets  for 
me.  I  have  the  illusion  of  being  free  of  my  depriva- 
tions— I  live  my  life  in  my  own  way. 

Another  naturalist  whose  books  are  to  me  a  har- 
bour of  content  is  John  Burroughs.  They  are  what 
he  was  when  I  met  him — drenched  in  the  sunshine 
and  sweetness  of  the  out-of-door  world.  I  love  all 
that  he  loves — birds,  bees,  and  everything  that  blooms 
and  ripens,  snow,  ice,  rain  and  wind,  and  the  restful 
simplicity  of  a  life  freed  from  the  complex  trappings 
of  modern  society. 

An  American  who  is  somehow  connected  in  my 
mind  with  Plato  and  Francis  Bacon  is  Professor 
William  James.  When  I  was  a  little  girl  he  came  to 
see  Miss  Sullivan  and  me  at  the  Perkins  Institution 
for  the  Blind  in  South  Boston.  He  brought  me  a 
beautiful  ostrich  feather,  ''I  thought/'  he  said,  "you 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS  317 

would  like  the  feather,  it  is  soft  and  light  and  caress- 
ing." 

We  talked  about  my  sense  perceptions  and  he 
wove  a  magic  web  into  his  discourse.  He  said  then, 
and  afterwards  when  I  sent  him  a  copy  of  The  World 
I  Live  In,  that  in  our  problems  and  processes  of 
thought  we  do  not  greatly  differ  from  one  another. 
He  was  not  surprised  to  find  my  world  so  much  like 
that  of  everyone  else,  though  he  said  he  was  "quite 
disconcerted,  professionally  speaking,"  by  my  ac- 
count of  myself  before  my  "  ^consciousness'  was 
awakened  by  instruction." 

His  thought  was  clear  like  crystal.  His  body,  like 
his  mind,  was  quick  and  alert.  In  argument  his 
tongue  was  like  a  rapier,  but  he  was  always  ready  to 
listen  to  the  other  side,  and  always  made  me  ashamed 
of  my  cocksureness  about  many  things. 

He  was  not  a  mystic — his  mind  could  not  thrive  on 
air  as  mine  does — but  I  think  he  was  something  of  a 
poet  as  well  as  a  philosopher. 

As  a  young  woman  I  was  extremely  fortunate  in 
having  John  Macy  to  counsel  me  with  regard  to 
books.  He  was  a  great  reader  and  an  enthu- 
siastic admirer  of  all  that  is  beautiful  in  poetry 
and  prose.  Whenever  in  his  own  reading  he  found 
anything  particularly  impressive  he  read  the  pas- 
sage to  me.  He  read  long  passages  from  William 
James's  books  as  they  came  out,  and  many  of  Steveq- 


3i8  MIDSTREAM 

son's  letters.  He  suggested  that  Mr.  Hitz  put  Virgini- 
bus  Puerisque,  and  E.  V.  Lucas's  The  Open  Road, 
and  The  Friendly  Town  into  braille,  and  he  read 
other  books  for  me  which  later  were  printed  in 
braille,  Huckleberry  Finn  among  them.  And  it  was 
he  who  had  Shelley's  "The  Cenci"  embossed  for  me. 

One  of  the  most  stimulating  adventures  I  ever  had 
occurred  when  Mr.  Macy  became  absorbed  in  the 
question  of  the  authorship  of  the  Shakespeare  plays. 
We  read  books  on  the  subject  by  Reed,  Greenwood, 
Begley,  and  our  friend,  Mr.  William  Stone  Booth. 
I  cannot  go  into  details  here.  I  can  merely  com- 
ment on  the  confused,  breathless  wonder  of  that  de- 
lightful time.  Mr.  Furness  himself  had  told  me  that 
only  three  facts  had  been  ascertained  with  regard  to 
England's  greatest  genius — he  was  born,  he  married, 
and  he  died!  I  was  human  enough  to  experience  a 
lively  sense  of  gratification  when  Mr.  Booth's  argu- 
ments convinced  me  that  Bacon  had  left  his  signa- 
ture upon  the  plays  in  the  form  of  acrostics.  I  could 
look  behind  them  not  to  an  uneducated  rustic,  but 
to  a  man  of  mighty  intellect.  One  not  without  grave 
faults,  but  one  who  was  "a  memorable  example  to  all 
of  virtue,  kindness,  peaceableness  and  patience,  one 
who  stood  cool  and  composed  before  a  thousand 
universes."  Whether  this  was  right  or  wrong,  the 
vigorous  discussion  shook  my  mind  into  more  inde- 
pendent thinking,  and  taught  me  not  to  be  afraid  of 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS  319 
established  opinions.  Such  experiences  add  many 
years  to  one's  biography;  for  a  thousand  thoughts 
spring  up  where  there  was  one. 

I  am  constantly  surprised  at  the  slight  things 
which  have  influenced  me.  A  casual  acquaintance,  an 
article  in  a  magazine  or  a  book,  has  caused  me  to 
discard  opinions  I  had  held  with  a  dogged  faith. 
When  Mr.  Macy  first  introduced  me  to  H.  G. 
Wells's  New  Worlds  for  Old,  the  kingdom  which 
was  my  mind  became  a  Social  Utopia.  With  con- 
fidence I  exchanged  my  old  world  for  his  new  one. 
How  simple  he  made  everything!  His  eloquence 
changed  the  selfish  old  world  into  a  fair  City  of 
God.  Was  not  this  the  fulfilment  of  the  hope  of 
youth?  Mr.  Wells  was  a  glorified  prophet  until  I 
saw  that  he  stopped  at  every  altar  to  revise  his 
articles  of  faith.  Then  I  gave  him  up  but  he  had 
already  made  a  lot  of  trouble  for  me— God  forgive 
him! 

It  was  Mr.  Macy  who  introduced  me  to  Tolstoi 
Romain  Rolland,  Hardy,  Shaw,  Kropotkin,  Anatole 
France,  Brieux,  and  Karl  Marx.  I  had  the  pleasure 
of  meeting  M.  Brieux  some  years  later  when  I  was 
lecturing  in  Northampton  and  he  was  lecturing  at 
Smith  College.  He  could  not  speak  English,  and 
my  French  was  atrocious,  but  by  some  miracle  of 
intuition  we  understood  each  other :  I  read  his  lips, 
and  he  was  so  delighted  when  I  repeated  his  words 


320  MIDSTREAM 

correctly,  his  tears  fell  on  my  hand.  I  managed  to  tell 
him  I  liked  his  brood  of  heresies,  and  that  I  was 
grateful  to  him  for  breaking  the  cowardly  silence  of 
the  world  on  social  evils.  I  told  him  how  my  eyes 
had  opened  to  those  evils  in  my  work  for  the  blind. 
I  tried  to  say  in  French  that  we  must  use  the  lever 
of  plain  speech  to  pry  at  the  underpinnings  of  a 
social  system  which  ruins  human  bodies  and  minds 
and  covers  the  disaster  with  false  blushes.  I  could 
not  think  of  the  words  for  lever  and  pry,  so  my 
high  sailing  sentiment  went  on  the  rocks.  I  managed 
better  with  my  offering  that  M.  Brieux  and  Mr. 
Shaw  were  true  reformers,  and  both  were  assuredly 
destined  to  drive  people  out  of  their  refuge  of  pre- 
tended ignorance.  "But,"  said  M.  Brieux,  "according 
to  the  critics  we  are  not  artists,  and  should  be  cast 
out  because  art  has  nothing  to  do  with  social  or 
political  reform — it  is  an  expression  of  beauty  for 
beauty's  sake." 

I  think  he  assented  to  this  view;  but  he  said 
beauty  meant  something  different  to  him.  "All  things 
are  beautiful  to  me  if  they  are  a  real  part  of  human 
life.  Sad,  terrible  things  must  be  shown  also.  To 
realize  ugliness  is  to  suffer  and  to  long  for  beauty." 

After  he  returned  to  France  he  wrote  to  me,  and  I 
was  glad  to  learn  through  an  article  he  inclosed  that 
he  was  taking  an  active  part  in  the  rehabilitation  of 
blind  soldiers. 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS  321 

I  encountered  another  distinguished  author  from 
a  foreign  shore  when  I  was  in  vaudeville.  Mr.  G.  K. 
Chesterton  happened  to  be  in  Cleveland  when  I  was 
there.  We  were  stopping  at  the  same  hotel.  One  eve- 
ning he  and  Mrs.  Chesterton  called  on  us  in  our 
rooms.  He  was  exactly  what  I  expected  after  reading 
Father  Brown,  Trifles,  and  Three  Diamonds,  qnly 
more  delightful.  He  was  a  formidable  personage, 
with  an  Englishman's  honest  prejudices  against 
nearly  everything  American,  and  a  scintillating 
vocabulary  in  which  to  parade  them.  As  our  faults 
passed  before  us  they  were  so  brilliantly  illuminated 
by  Chestertonian  rays  of  wit,  aphorism,  and  invec- 
tive that  we  were  glad  we  had  them. 

I  find  that  my  mental  constitution  is  unlike  that 
of  most  modern  writers.  I  am  thinking  especially  of 
Mr.  Mencken,  Mr.  Sinclair  Lewis,  and  Mr.  Eugene 
O'Neill.  I  enjoy  being  credulous,  while  they  seem 
to  abhor  it.  I  am  aware  of  a  subtle  connivance  with 
my  folly.  I  keep  the  windows  of  my  soul  open  to 
illusions.  Like  the  saints  of  early  years,  I  am  con- 
stantly on  the  lookout  for  miracles.  The  unexpected 
may  happen  at  any  odd  moment,  and  I  want  to  be 
on  the  spot. 

Of  all  the  writers  that  have  come  to  me  in  recent 
years  Joseph  Conrad  stands  preeminent.  I  did  not 
really  make  his  acquaintance  until  1920 — I  did  not 
have  any  of  his  books  in  braille  before  then.  I  cannot 


322  MIDSTREAM 

define  the  peculiar  fascination  he  has  for  me,  but 
he  took  possession  of  me  at  once.  I  had  always  loved 
books  of  the  sea,  and  the  days  I  have  spent  along 
the  shore  have  been  happy  ones.  I  love  the  dunes  and 
the  sea  weeds  that  drift  in  and  crawl  up  on  the  sands, 
the  little  waves  that  creep  through  shells  and  peb- 
bles, like  fingers  seeking  to  spell  a  message  to  me. 
"We  used  to  be  friends  when  you  were  the  beginning 
of  a  fish— do  you  remember?"  I  love  winds  and 
storms  and  sailors,  tropical  dawns  leaping  out  of  the 
east,  and  billows  that  like  mighty  tusked  mastodons 
crunch  the  land.  It  may  be  that  I  am  especially  alive 
to  the  spell  of  the  sea  because  it  is  so  much  like  the 
darkness  that  is  my  element.  The  dark,  too,  has  its 
deep  silent  currents  and  dangerous  reefs,  its  mon- 
sters, its  creatures  of  beauty,  its  derelicts  and  ships. 
In  the  dark,  too,  there  is  a  star  to  steer  by,  and  no 
matter  how  far  I  travel  there  are  always  before  me 
vast  oceans  of  experience  that  I  have  not  yet  ex- 
plored. 

It  seems  to  me,  the  picture  most  constantly  in  Con- 
rad's mind  is  that  of  bits  of  humanity  adrift  upon  a 
dark  sea,  trying  to  save  themselves.  Some  think  they 
can  reach  shore  by  swimming,  some  fashion  rafts, 
some  keep  bobbing  up  and  down,  declaring  that  there 
is  no  shore,  yet  they  go  on  fighting,  driven  by  some 
incomprehensible  urge  to  self-preservation.  While 
they  seek  to  reach  an  invisible  shore,  they  see  them* 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS  323 
selves  as  eventually  safe,  triumphant  heirs  of  im- 
mortal happiness.  What  matter  the  loneliness,  the 
hardships,  the  loud  beating  of  the  billows  and  solemn 
moan  of  fathomless  waters?  What  counts  is  the  inner 
vision,  the  brightness  and  blessedness  of  the  dream. 

Mr.  Frank  Nelson  Doubleday,  Conrad's  friend 
and  publisher  who  is  also  my  friend  and  publisher, 
has  given  me  Chance,  Victory,  and  the  Life  and  Let- 
ters by  Jean-Aubry.  My  teacher  had  the  Life  and 
Letters  put  into  braille  as  soon  as  they  came.  While 
I  have  been  writing  they  have  been  reposing  tan- 
talizingly  on  the  shelf,  and  my  fingers  have  ached  to 
get  hold  of  them. 

I  like  books  that  bring  me  close  to  elemental  things 
—books  like  Willa  Gather's  My  Antonia,  Knut  Ham- 
sun's Growth  of  the  Soil,  Edgar  Lee  Masters'  Spoon 
River  Anthology,  and  Olive  Schreiner's  The 
Story  of  an  African  Farm.  Two  years  ago  Miss 
Thomson  gave  me  The  Story  of  an  African  Farm, 
It  was  the  first  time  I  had  read  anything  of  Olive 
Schreiner's.  I  do  not  know  of  another  woman  writer 
who  has  the  power  and  vision  of  the  author  of  this 
book.  It  is  now  fifty-three  years  since  it  was  written 
and  it  is  still  as  terrible  as  a  primal  force  of  nature. 

Thomas  Hardy  came  to  me  first  with  Tess  of  the 
D'Urbervilles  in  his  hand.  The  intensity  of  his  dark 
vision  fascinated  me.  He  is  the  greatest  pessimist  in 
English  letters,  I  think,  with  the  exception  of  Dean 

I' 


3^4  MIDSTREAM 
Swift,  but  his  disheartening  realism  stimulates  while 
it  depresses.  Like  Job,  he  is  a  poet,  and  one  cannot 
escape  the  feeling  that  he  revels  in  his  dark  sor- 
ceries, or  the  wish  that  a  few  gentle  fairies  had 
made  their  abode  in  Dorsetshire. 
f  Bernard  Shaw  came  to  me  first  accompanied  by 
Candida  and  her  poet  lover.  I  cannot  imagine  any- 
one dozing  when  Shaw  is  around.  There  is  a  mis- 
chievous imp  in  him  which  brings  the  dullest  of  us 
to  attention.  He  is  the  gadfly  of  the  absurdities  of 
our  time.  He  has  packed  into  two  short  sentences  the 
causes  of  unhappiness  in  the  world.  "What  is  the 
matter  with  the  poor  is  poverty,"  he  says.  "What  is 

Lthe  matter  with  the  rich  is  uselessness." 
—A  recent  book  that  I  have  enjoyed  immensely  is 
Microbe  Hunters,  by  Paul  de  Kruif.  It  was  most 
comforting  to  learn  that  great  scientists  are  human 
like  ourselves.  I  could  have  shouted  with  glee  over 
their  quarrels,  jealousies,  and  mistakes.  How  like 
mere  mortals  they  are  in  their  weaknesses!  But  how 
like  gods  in  their  imagination,  patience,  and  nobility 
of  purpose!  I  have  read  few  books  relating  to  science 
so  entrancing  as  this  one. 

At  times  when  I  have  not  been  able  to  get  books 
I  wanted  embossed  over  here  because  our  braille 
presses  were  so  busy  with  other  matters  I  have  ap- 
pealed to  my  friend,  Sir  Arthur  Pearson,  in  Eng- 
land. It  was  he  who  had  Turgenev's  Smoke  done  for 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS  325 

me  and  Value,  Price,  and  Profit,  by  Karl  Marx. 
Several  of  Conrad's  books  were  also  transcribed  for 
me  in  England. 

Publishers  of  books  are  as  generous  in  giving 
reprint  permission  to  the  blind  as  publishers  of 
magazines,  but  the  publishing  of  braille  books  is 
expensive,  and  many  of  the  most  important  works 
by  the  greatest  authors  are  not  available  for  the  blind. 
Very  few  of  the  blind  can  own  any  books  at  all, 
not  even  a  Bible.  The  cheapest  Bible  in  raised  print 
costs  sixty-five  dollars. 

Through  the  generosity  of  the  Lions  International 
the  blind  are  enjoying  a  great  many  more  books 
than  they  ever  had  before.  We  are  indebted  to  them 
for  The  Forsyte  Saga.  Galsworthy  opens  a  wide 
window  for  me.  Like  William  Blake,  he  feels  that  a 
bird  in  a  cage  puts  out  a  light  in  Heaven,  and  that 
the  cry  of  a  hunted  animal  tears  a  fibre  out  of  the 
brain  of  an  angel,  and  that  beggars'  rags  are  toad- 
stools on  a  prince's  throne.  ''As  he  caresses  the  heads 
of  his  own  dogs,  an  aching  tenderness  runs  from  his 
finger-tips  to  the  human  under-dog— to  tramp,  and 
prostitute,  and  hungry  workingman."  He  knows 
that  compared  with  the  spiritual  experiences  life 
has  to  ofifer,  "property"  is  nothing,  nothing,  nothing! 

I  wish  I  could  express  what  poetry  means  to  me. 
I  have  always  loved  it.  For  many  years  I  have  had 
beside  me  Palgrave's  Golden  Treasury,  Keats,  Shel- 


326  MIDSTREAM 

ley,  Whitman,  Browning,  and  Burns.  In  all  of  these 
books  there  are  pages  which  I  have  worn  out.  Keats's 
"I  Stood  Tip-toe  on  a  Little  Hill"  is  quite  flat.  Shel- 
ley's "Prometheus  Unbound,"  "To  a  Skylark,"  and 
"The  Cloud"  are  very  thin.  So  is  Browning's  "Saul," 
and  the  whole  of  The  Golden  Treasury  is  in  a  sad 
state  of  dilapidation. 

Poetry  is  to  me  the  Mystic  Trumpeter  of  which 
Walt  Whitman  says, 

At  thy  liquid  prelude,  glad,  serene. 

The  fretting  world,  the  street,  the  noisy  hours  of  day  withdraw, 

A  holy  calm  descends  like  dew  upon  mc, 

I  walk  in  cool  refreshing  night  the  walk  of  paradise, 

I  scent  the  grass,  the  moist  air  and  the  roses ; 

Thy  song  expands  my  numb'd,  imbonded  spirit,  thou  freest, 

launchest  me. 
Floating  and  basking  upon  Heaven's  lake. 

Next  to  Whitman  my  favourite  American  poet  is 
Lanier.  It  is  given  to  poets  and  blind  people  to  see 
into  the  Unseen,  and  together  Lanier  and  I  have 
gazed  into  the  "sweet-within-sweet"  mystery  of 
flowers  and  corn  and  clover,  and  the  sweep  of  marsh 
and  sea  has  revealed  to  us  the  liberty  beyond  the 
prison  bars  of  sense. 

As  I  read  the  poems  which  Francis  Thompson 
seems  to  put  into  my  hands  as  a  child  brings  "some 
fond  and  fancied  nothings,"  all  I  touch  becomes 
more  significant— the  rustle  of  the  leaves,  the  shy 
ways  of  children,  the  fugitive  winds  that  come  and 


ENCHANTED  WINDOWS  327 

go  among  the  flowers  with  trackless  feet;  and  always 
there  is  the  undertone  of  ineffaceable  sorrow  and 
tenderness. 

I  have  not  said  much  about  the  poets  who  are  sing- 
ing to-day  because  their  music  is  not  in  raised  letters. 
I  only  catch  tantalizing  notes  now  and  then  when 
some  good  Samaritan  who  is  also  a  lover  of  poetry 
reads  to  me.  In  this  way  I  have  enjoyed  poems  by 
Yeats,  Padraic  Colum,  and  others.  The  brooding 
Celtic  note  grips  my  heart.  Yeats  makes  me  want  to 
visit  the  Isle  of  Innisf  ree  and  know  the  Danaan  people 
and  gather  ''the  golden  apples  of  the  sun"  and  "the 
silver  apples  of  the  moon."  For  a  time  our  house  in 
Wrentham  was  vibrant  with  Synge's  tragic  laughter. 
My  mother  read  me  ''Riders  to  the  Sea"  and  "The 
Well  of  the  Saints."  I  also  go  with  Douglas  Hyde  into 
the  cabins  of  Connaught  where  he  finds  songs  on  the 
lips  of  old  women  spinning  in  the  sun.  I  should  like 
to  see  more  of  the  shining  ones  George  Russell  (IE) 
finds  dwelling  among  the  hills  of  old  Ireland.  And 
more  of  Lord  Dunsany,  who  seems  in  the  poem  or 
two  I  have  read  to  penetrate  into  the  realms  of 
twilight  wonder  where  the  incredible  is  tangible, 
and  the  Irish  little  folk  make  music  that  enthralls 
the  unwary. 

John  Masefield  is  the  most  vital  of  the  English 
poets  I  have  met  of  recent  years.  Poetry  is  not  for 
him,  as  for  the  Irish,  an  escape  from  life,  but  his 


328  MIDSTREAM 

slums  and  peasants  and  sailors  and  taverns  interest 
me. 

Perhaps  it  is  true  of  everyone,  but  it  seems  to  me 
that  in  a  special  way  what  I  read  becomes  a  part  of 
me.  What  I  am  conscious  of  borrowing  from  my 
author  friends  I  put  in  quotation  marks,  but  I  do  not 
know  how  to  indicate  the  wandering  seeds  that  drop 
unperceived  into  my  soul.  I  am  not  even  extenuating 
my  appropriation  of  fine  thoughts.  I  prefer  to  put 
quotation  marks  at  the  beginning  and  the  end  of  my 
book  and  leave  it  to  those  who  have  contributed  to 
its  interest  or  charm  or  beauty  to  take  what  is  theirs 
and  accept  my  gratitude  for  the  help  they  have  been 
to  me.  I  know  that  I  am  not  original  in  either  content 
or  form.  I  have  not  opened  new  paths  to  thought 
or  new  vistas  to  truth,  but  I  hope  that  my  books  have 
paid  tribute  in  some  small  measure  to  the  authors 
who  have  enriched  my  life. 


Chapter  XX 


THOUGHTS  THAT  WILL  NOT  LET 
ME  SLEEP 

I  HAVE  already  said  that  people  are  not  interested 
in  what  I  think  of  things  outside  myself,  but  there 
are  certain  subjects  about  which  I  feel  very  deeply, 
and  this  book  would  not  be  an  honest  record  of  my 
life  if  I  avoided  them.  I  realize  that  I  am  apt  to  be 
too  dogmatic  when  I  write  of  things  that  mean  much 
to  me.  I  know  it  would  be  an  advantage  to  express 
disapproval  with  captivating  grace.  If  I  could  de- 
liver my  indictments  with  an  urbanity  so  exquisite 
that  every  reader  would  feel  himself  implicitly 
exempted  from  the  charge,  and  free  to  relish  the 
strokes  administered  to  the  rest,  this  chapter  would 
be  more  enjoyed.  Even  the  accused  like  to  be  taken 
into  their  enemy's  confidence,  and  invited  as  a  per- 
sonal favour  to  look  on  while  execution  is  being  done 
on  the  host  without.  While  they  laugh,  no  doubt  they 
resolve  privately  to  be  less  like  those  "others"  in  the 
future.  But  delicate  banter  is  not  one  of  my  strong 
points.  I  ask  nothing  for  myself.  I  am  not  among  the 
victims  of  unjust  laws.  The  struggle  I  have  gone 
through  is  no  worse  than,  indeed,  it  is  not  so  grinding 

329 


330  MIDSTREAM 

as,  that  of  the  majority  of  men  and  women  who  are 
enmeshed  in  economic  problems  which  they  are  in- 
capable of  solving. 

When  I  look  out  upon  the  world,  I  see  society 
divided  into  two  great  elements,  and  organized 
around  an  industrial  life  which  is  selfish,  combative, 
and  acquisitive,  with  the  result  that  man's  better  in- 
stincts are  threatened,  while  his  evil  propensities  are 
intensified  and  protected.  My  knowledge  of  the  con- 
ditions that  this  system  imposes  is  not  vicarious.  I 
have  visited  mill  towns  in  Massachusetts,  Georgia, 
the  Carolinas,  Alabama,  Rhode  Island,  and  New 
Jersey.  I  have  visited  mining  towns  in  Pennsylvania, 
Utah,  Alabama,  Tennessee,  West  Virginia,  and 
Colorado.  I  have  been  in  foundry  towns  when 
the  men  were  on  strike.  I  have  been  in  pack- 
ing towns  when  the  men  were  on  strike.  I  have 
been  in  New  York  when  the  longshoremen  were  on 
strike.  I  have  been  on  the  New  York  Central  when 
the  railroad  men  were  on  strike,  and  stones  went 
flying  through  the  windows.  I  have  spoken  in  cities 
where  feeling  was  so  intense  because  of  the  conflict 
between  capital  and  labour  that  when  I  was  asked 
questions  about  the  dispute  part  of  the  audience 
hissed,  and  the  manager  came  on  to  the  stage  to  ask 
rpe  not  to  answer. 

/I  have  gone  through  ugly  dark  streets  filled  with 
small  children  whose  little  grimy  faces  already  look 


THOUGHTS  331 

old.  Many  of  them  are  defective  in  body  or  mind  or 
both. 

All  over  America  I  have  been  appalled  by  the 
number  of  young  children  v^ho  spend  the  greater 
part  of  the  day  in  stufify,  overcrowded  rooms,  looked 
after  by  old  people  or  by  children  only  a  little  older 
than  themselves,  while  their  parents  work  in  factories 
or  in  other  people's  houses.  This  seems  to  me  the 
most  deplorable  tragedy  of  our  modern  life.  A 
nation's  first  and  last  responsibility  is  the  welfare  of 
its  children.  No  nation  can  live  if  its  children  must 
struggle  not  to  die;  no  nation  can  decay  if  its  children 
are  healthy  and  happy.  These  children  who  have 
neither  health  nor  happiness,  who  were  born  in  ill- 
5.melling,  sunless  tenements,  whose  hunger  drove  them 
early  to  the  sweat-shops  and  mills  and  mines— these 
children,  who  in  body  and  soul  have  become  dwarfed 
and  misshapen,  are  not  fit  citizens  for  a  republic. 
They  are  at  once  a  danger  and  a  reproach.  / 

We  bar  the  children  of  Europe's  slurfis  at  our 
gates.  Our  immigration  laws  do  not  permit  the  weak 
and  unfit  to  come  into  our  country,  but  a  singular 
change  of  sentiment  occurs  when  mothers  wish  to 
restrict  another  kind  of  immigration  far  wider  and 
more  fateful.  Anyone  who  advocates  the  limitation 
of  families  to  a  number  which  their  parents  can  care 
for  in  health  and  decency  is  frowned  upon  as  a  law- 
breaker. It  is  not  illegal  to  bring  defective  children 


332  MIDSTREAM 

into  the  world  to  grow  up  in  soul-destroying  poverty, 
but  it  is  criminal  for  a  physician  to  tell  a  mother  how 
to  protect  herself  and  her  family  by  birth-control! 
It  is  a  strange,  illogical  order  that  makes  it  a  crime 
to  teach  the  prevention  of  conception  and  yet  fails 
to  provide  decent  living  conditions  for  the  swarms  of 
babies  that  come  tumbling  into  the  world. 
/  O  America,  beloved  of  my  heart!  The  worst  that 
men  will  say  of  you  is  this :  You  took  little  children 
out  of  their  cradles,  out  of  the  sun  and  dewy  grass, 
away  from  play  and  their  toys,  and  huddled  them 
between  dark  walls  of  brick  and  cement  to  work  for 
a  wage,  for  their  bread.  For  their  heart-hunger  you 
gave  them  dust  to  eat,  and  for  their  labour  you  filled 
their  little  hands  with  ashes!  / 

I  love  my  country.  To  say  that  is  like  saying  I  love 
my  family.  I  did  not  choose  my  country  any  more 
than  I  chose  my  parents,  but  I  am  her  daughter 
just  as  truly  as  I  am  the  child  of  my  Southern 
mother  and  father.  What  I  am  my  country  has 
made  me.  She  has  fostered  the  spirit  which  made  my 
education  possible.  Neither  Greece  nor  Rome,  nor 
all  China,  nor  Germany  nor  Great  Britain  has  sur- 
rounded a  deaf-blind  child  with  the  devotion  and 
skill  and  resources  which  have  been  mine  in  America. 

But  my  love  for  America  is  not  blind.  Perhaps  I 
am  more  conscious  of  her  faults  because  I  love  her  so 
deeply.  Nor  am  I  blind  to  my  own  faults.  It  is  easy 


THOUGHTS 

to  see  that  there  is  little  virtue  in  the  old  formulas, 
and  that  new  ones  must  be  found,  but  even  after  one 
has  decided  this,  it  is  not  easy  to  hold  a  steady  course 
in  a  changing  world. 

One  of  the  painful  consequences  of  holding  to 
one's  course,  if  it  is  unpopular,  is  the  division  it 
causes  between  friends.  It  is  not  pleasant  to  feel  that 
friends  who  have  loved  us  no  longer  care  to  see  us. 
One  says  defiantly,  "I  don't  care!  I'm  perfectly  happy 
without  their  friendship";  but  it  is  not  true.  One  can- 
not help  feeling  very  sad  about  it  at  times.  We  are 
all  complex.  I  wish  I  were  made  of  just  one  self — 
consistent,  wise,  and  loving — a  self  I  should  never 
wish  to  get  rid  of  at  any  time  or  place,  which  would 
move  graciously  through  my  autobiography,  ''trail- 
ing clouds  of  glory."  But  alas  and  alack!  Deep  within 
me  I  knew  nothing  of  the  kind  would  happen.  No 
wonder  I  shrank  from  writing  this  book. 

It  is  no  use  trying  to  reconcile  the  multitude  of 
egos  that  compose  me.  I  cannot  fathom  myself.  I  ask 
myself  questions  that  I  cannot  answer.  I  find  my 
heart  aching  when  I  expected  to  find  it  rejoicing, 
tears  flow  from  my  eyes  when  my  lips  were  formed 
to  smile.  I  preach  love,  brotherhood,  and  peace,  but 
I  am  conscious  of  antagonisms,  and  lo!  I  find  myself 
brandishing  a  sword  and  making  ready  for  the  battle. 

I  think  that  every  honest  belief  should  be  treated 
with  fairness,  yet  I  cry  out  against  people  who  uphold 


334  MIDSTREAM 

the  empire  of  gold.  I  am  aware  of  moods  when  the 
perfect  state  of  peace,  brotherhood,  and  universal 
love  seems  so  far  off  that  I  turn  to  division,  pugnacity, 
and  the  pageant  of  war.  I  am  just  like  St.  Paul  when 
he  says,  "I  delight  in  the  Law  of  God  after  the  in- 
ward man;  but  I  see  another  law  in  my  members, 
warring  against  the  law  of  my  mind."  I  am  perfectly 
sure  that  love  will  bring  everything  right  in  the  end, 
but  I  cannot  help  sympathizing  with  the  oppressed 
who  feel  driven  to  use  force  to  gain  the  rights  that 
belong  to  them. 

That  is  one  reason  why  I  have  turned  with  such 
interest  towards  the  great  experiment  now  being  tried 
in  Russia.  No  revolution  was  ever  a  sudden  outbreak 
of  lawlessness  and  wreckage  incited  by  an  unholy 
brood  of  cranks,  anarchists,  and  pedagogues.  People 
turn  to  revolution  only  when  every  other  dream  has 
faded  into  the  dimness  of  sorrow.  When  we  look  back 
upon  these  mighty  disturbances  which  seem  to  leap 
so  suddenly  out  of  the  troubled  depths  we  find  that 
they  were  fed  by  little  streams  of  discontent  and 
oppression.  These  little  streams  which  have  their 
source  deep  down  in  the  miseries  of  the  common 
people  all  flow  together  at  last  in  a  retributive  flood. 

The  Russian  Revolution  did  not  originate  with 
Lenin.  It  had  hovered  for  centuries  in  the  dreams  of 
Russian  mystics  and  patriots,  but  when  the  body  of 
Lenin  was  laid  in  simple  state  in  the  Kremlin,  all 


THOUGHTS 

Russia  trembled  and  wept.  The  mouths  of  hungry 
enemies  fed  on  new  hopes,  but  the  spirit  of  Lenin 
lescended  upon  the  weeping  multitude  as  with  cloven 
tongues  of  fire,  and  they  spoke  one  to  another,  and 
were  not  afraid.  ^'Let  us  not  follow  him  with  cower- 
ing hearts,"  they  said,  ''let  us  rather  gird  ourselves 
for  the  task  he  has  left  us.  Where  our  dull  eyes  see 
only  ruin,  his  clearer  sight  discovers  the  road  by 
which  we  shall  gain  our  liberty.  Revolution,  he  sees, 
yea,  and  even  disintegration  which  symbolizes  dis- 
order is  in  truth  the  working  of  God's  undeviating 
Order;  and  the  manner  of  our  government  shall  be 
ho  less  wonderful  than  the  manner  of  our  deliverance. 
If  we  are  steadfast,  the  world  will  be  quickened  to 
courage  by  our  deeds." 

Men  vanish  from  earth  leaving  behind  them  the  fur- 
rows they  have  ploughed.  I  see  the  furrow  Lenin  left 
sown  with  the  unshatterable  seed  of  a  new  life  for 
mankind,  and  cast  deep  below  the  rolling  tides  of 
storm  and  lightning,  mighty  crops  for  the  ages  to  reap. 

It  is  not  possible  for  civilization  to  flow  backwards 
while  there  is  youth  in  the  world.  Youth  may  be 
headstrong,  but  it  will  advance  its  allotted  length. 
Through  the  ages  in  the  battle  with  the  powers  of 
evil — with  poverty,  misery,  ignorance,  war,  ugliness 
and  slavery,  youth  has  steadily  gained  on  the  enemy. 
That  is  why  I  never  turn  away  from  the  new  genera- 
tion impatiently  because  of  its  knowingness.  Through 


336  MIDSTREAM 

it  alone  shall  salvation  come. 

Yet  the  prospect  of  the  millennium  does  not  seem 
to  me  as  imminent  as  it  once  did.  The  process  of  the 
emancipation  of  mankind  from  old  ideas  is  very  slow. 
The  human  race  does  not  take  to  new  ways  of  living 
readily,  but  I  do  not  feel  discouraged.  Personally,  I 
am  impeded  by  physical  difficulties  which  generate 
forces  powerful  enough  to  carry  me  over  the  barriers. 
This  is  true  of  the  world's  problems,  too.  It  is  for  us 
to  work  with  all  our  might  to  unite  the  spiritual 
power  of  good  against  the  material  power  of  evil. 

It  is  for  us  to  pray  not  for  tasks  equal  to  our  powers, 
but  for  powers  equal  to  our  tasks,  to  go  forward  with 
a  great  desire  forever  beating  at  the  door  of  our 
hearts  as  we  travel  towards  the  distant  goal. 

Man  is  unconquerable  when  he  stands  on  the  rights 
of  man.  It  is  inspiring  to  see  against  the  background 
of  our  ignorance  an  old  ideal  or  a  discarded  truth 
flash  forth  new-created.  The  tragic  deaths  of  Sacco 
and  Vanzetti  were  a  fiery  sign  to  the  friends  of  free- 
dom everywhere  that  the  powers  never  slumber  which 
seek  to  subject  the  weak  and  unbefriended.  Now  and 
then  a  Juares,  a  Liebnecht,  a  Debs,  a  Rolland,  a  Lenin, 
or  a  Tolstoi  startles  the  dormant  souls  of  a  few  men 
and  women  with  the  thunder  of  his  words.  The  veil 
of  the  temple  is  for  a  moment  rent  in  twain ;  Truth, 
piercing  as  lightning,  reveals  the  hideous  thing  we 
have  made  of  our  humanity. 


THOUGHTS 

Then  the  veil  is  drawn,  and  the  world  sleeps  again, 
sometimes  for  centuries,  but  never  as  comfortably 
as  it  did  before. 

This  need  not  discourage  us.  We  can  still  keep  our 
faces  towards  the  dawn,  knowing  that  with  God  a 
thousand  years  are  as  a  watch  in  the  night.  There  is 
always  a  new  horizon  for  onward  looking  men. 

The  world  which  my  imagination  constructs  out 
of  my  philosophy  of  evolution  is  pleasant  to  contem- 
plate. It  is  a  realization  of  everything  that  seems 
desirable  to  us  in  our  best  moods,  and  the  people  that 
live  in  it  are  like  those  we  sometimes  meet  whose 
nobility  is  a  prophecy  of  what  we  shall  be  when  we 
have  reached  the  state  in  which  the  different  parts 
of  our  bodies  and  souls,  our  hearts  and  minds,  have 
attained  their  right  proportions.  This  state  will  not 
be  attained  without  tribulation. 

The  clatter  of  a  changing  world  is  not  pleasant, 
and  those  who  have  enjoyed  the  comforts  and  pro- 
tection of  the  old  order  may  be  shocked  and  unhappy 
when  they  behold  the  vigorous  young  builders  of  a 
new  world  sweeping  away  their  time-honoured  an- 
tiquities. I  look  forward  to  the  time  when  the  most 
atrocious  of  these  antiquities — war — will  be  as  much 
shunned  by  mankind  as  it  is  now  glorified.  The  voice 
within  us  that  cries  so  passionately  for  peace  cannot 
lie. 

"The  great  God,"  said  William  Penn  in  his  address 


338  MIDSTREAM 

to  the  Indians,  ''hath  written  His  Law  in  our  hearts, 
by  which  we  are  taught  and  commanded  to  love  and 
help  do  good  to  one  another.  It  is  not  our  custom  to 
bear  hostile  weapons  against  our  fellow  creatures, 
for  which  reason  we  come  unarmed.  Our  object  is 
not  to  do  injury,  but  to  do  good.  We  are  now  met  on 
the  broad  pathway  to  good  faith  and  good  will,  so 
that  no  advantage  may  be  taken  on  either  side,  but 
all  is  to  be  openness,  brotherhood,  and  love,  while 
all  are  to  be  treated  as  of  the  same  flesh  and  blood." 

If  the  experience  of  the  other  colonies  of  the  At- 
lantic seaboard  was  any  criterion,  Penn  and  his 
followers  were  preparing  themselves  for  destruction. 
Any  wise  militarist  of  Massachusetts  or  Maryland  or 
Virginia  could  have  told  him  of  the  treacherous 
Indians,  of  their  bloodthirstiness,  of  their  unexpected 
raids  with  tomahawk  and  torch,  and  the  necessity, 
therefore,  of  being  armed.  But  the  Quakers  did  not 
know,  or  if  they  did  know,  they  did  not  believe,  and 
so  they  came  to  this  wilderness  without  so  much  as  a 
sword  or  a  rifle,  to  establish  a  ''City  of  Brotherly 
Love,"  and  they  succeeded.  While  other  settlements 
were  attacked  and  burned,  and  slaughtered  or  carried 
ofif  into  captivity,  the  little  Pennsylvania  colony  en- 
joyed uninterrupted  peace  and  prosperity.  The 
Quakers  had  no  forts,  no  soldiers,  no  arms.  They 
lived  in  the  midst  of  a  savage  people  who  knew  that 


THOUGHTS  339 

they  were  defenceless ;  and  yet,  in  spite  of  this  fact, 
or  shall  we  say  because  of  it,  they  knew  no  war  for 
seventy  years.  ^'Whatever  were  the  quarrels  of  the 
Pennsylvania  Indians  with  others,"  says  one  of  the 
Quaker  historians,  ''they  respected  and  held,  as  it 
were,  sacred  the  territories  of  the  Quakers.  The  Penn 
colony  never  lost  a  man,  woman,  or  child  by,  the 
Indians.  The  flowers  of  prosperity  and  good  will 
smiled  in  the  footprints  of  William  Penn." 

I  should  like  to  see  all  the  energy  that  is  going 
into  preparation  for  war  express  itself  in  ideals  that 
we  should  be  proud  to  cherish— that  would  make  us 
ashamed  of  the  sordidness  which  prevails  at  the 
present  time.  Work  should  be  joyous.  Everyone 
should  go  to  his  labour  singing  as  Whitman  hears 
America  singing  ''the  varied  carols,"  the  mechanics 
singing  blithe  and  strong— the  vitality  of  America 
voiced  in  building  for  a  race  of  free  men  and  women. 
There  is  a  passage  in  Whitman  which  expresses  my 
desire  for  America  with  such  sympathy  I  shall  quote 
it  here : 

This  moment  yearning  and  thoughtful,  sitting  alone, 
It  seems  to  me  there  are  other  men  in  other  lands,  yearning  and 
thoughtful  ; 

It  seems  to  me  I  can  look  over  and  behold  them,  in  Germany, 
Italy,  France,  Spain— or  far,  far  away,  in  China,  or  in 
Russia,  or  India— talking  other  dialects ; 


340  MIDSTREAM 

And  it  seems  to  me  if  I  could  know  those  men,  I  should  become 

attached  to  them,  as  I  do  to  men  in  my  own  lands; 
Oh,  I  know  we  should  be  brethren  and  lovers, 
I  know  I  should  be  happy  with  them. 

I  believe  that  we  can  live  on  earth  according  to  the 
teachings  of  Jesus,  and  that  the  greatest  happiness 
will  come  to  the  world  when  man  obeys  His  com- 
mandment "Love  ye  one  another." 

I  believe  that  every  question  between  man  and 
man  is  a  religious  question,  and  that  every  social 
wrong  is  a  moral  wrong. 

I  believe  that  we  can  live  on  earth  according  to  the 
fulfilment  of  God's  will,  and  that  when  the  will  of 
God  is  done  on  earth  as  it  is  done  in  heaven,  every 
man  will  love  his  fellow  men,  and  act  towards  them 
as  he  desires  they  should  act  towards  him.  I  believe 
that  the  welfare  of  each  is  bound  up  in  the  welfare 
of  all. 

I  believe  that  life  is  given  us  so  we  may  grow  in 
love,  and  I  believe  that  God  is  in  me  as  the  sun  is  in 
the  colour  and  fragrance  of  a  flower — the  Light  in 
my  darkness,  the  Voice  in  my  silence. 

I  believe  that  only  in  broken  gleams  has  the  Sun 
of  Truth  yet  shone  upon  men.  I  believe  that  love  will 
finally  establish  the  Kingdom  of  God  on  earth,  and 
that  the  Cornerstones  of  that  Kingdom  will  be 
Liberty,  Truth,  Brotherhood,  and  Service. 

I  believe  that  no  good  shall  be  lost,  and  that  all 


THOUGHTS  341 

man  has  willed  or  hoped  or  dreamed  of  good  shall 
exist  forever. 

I  believe  in  the  immortality  of  the  soul  because  I 
have  v^ithin  me  immortal  longings.  I  believe  that  the 
state  v^e  enter  after  death  is  wrought  of  our  own 
motives,  thoughts,  and  deeds.  I  believe  that  in  the 
life  to  come  I  shall  have  the  senses  I  have  not  had 
here,  and  that  my  home  there  will  be  beautiful  with 
colour,  music,  and  speech  of  flowers  and  faces  I 
love. 

Without  this  faith  there  would  be  little  meaning 
in  my  life.  I  should  be  ''a  mere  pillar  of  darkness  in 
the  dark."  Observers  in  the  full  enjoyment  of  their 
bodily  senses  pity  me,  but  it  is  because  they  do  not 
see  the  golden  chamber  in  my  life  where  I  dwell 
delighted ;  for,  dark  as  my  path  may  seem  to  them, 
I  carry  a  magic  light  in  my  heart.  Faith,  the  spiritual 
strong  searchlight,  illumines  the  way,  and  although 
sinister  doubts  lurk  in  the  shadow,  I  walk  unafraid 
towards  the  Enchanted  Wood  where  the  foliage  is 
always  green,  where  joy  abides,  where  nightingales 
nest  and  sing,  and  where  life  and  death  are  one  in  the 
Presence  of  the  Lord. 


Chapter  XXI 


MY    GUARDIAN  ANGEL 

I  HAVE  already  spoken  of  the  memorable  passage  in 
Gibbon's  Autobiography  in  which  he  says, 

Between  the  hours  of  eleven  and  twelve  at  night  I  wrote  the 
last  page  of  it  {The  Decline  and  Fall)^  in  a  small  house  in  my 
garden.  I  laid  down  my  pen  and  took  several  turns  in  a  berceau, 
or  covered  walk  of  acacias,  which  overlooked  the  country,  the 
lake,  and  the  mountains.  The  night  was  calm,  the  sky  was  serene, 
and  the  silvery  orb  of  the  moon  was  reflected  from  the  waters. 

He  goes  on  to  describe  his  mingled  emotions  of  joy 
and  pain, 

.  .  .  my  joy  on  the  recovery  of  my  freedom,  and  perhaps  the 
establishment  of  my  fame — and  whatsoever  may  be  the  fate  of  my 
history,  the  life  of  the  historian  must  be  short  and  precarious. 

I  have  v^ritten  the  last  line  of  the  last  auto- 
biography I  shall  write,  in  my  little  study,  not  in 
Lausanne  but  in  Forest  Hills.  I  lift  my  tired  hands 
from  the  typewriter.  I  am  free.  There  are  no  acacias 
in  my  garden,  but  there  are  spruce  and  firs  and  dog- 
woods. However,  I  am  using  the  acacias  symboli- 
cally. To  me  they  represent  the  life  path  on  which 

342 


MY  GUARDIAN  ANGEL  343 

I  have  walked  while  the  love  of  countless  friends  has 
shone  upon  me.  I  am  conscious  not  only  of  those  who 
walk  the  earth  but  also  of  those  who  dwell  on  the 
heaven  side  of  life.  My  books,  too,  I  like  to  think  of 
as  friends  smiling  upon  mc  along  the  winding  path- 
way. It  would  require  more  genius  than  I  have  to 
paint  in  felicitous  words  even  a  small  part  of  the 
multitudinously  hued  light  that  has  given  beauty 
and  meaning  to  my  life,  but  through  the  distance  and 
darkness  I  fling  those  who  have  given  it  the  best 
wishes  of  my  heart  and  my  gratitude. 

My  autobiography  is  not  a  great  work.  Whatever 
value  is  in  it  is  there  not  because  I  have  any  skill  as 
a  writer,  nor  because  there  are  any  thrilling  in- 
cidents in  it,  but  because  God  has  dealt  with  me  as 
with  a  son,  and  chastened  me,  and  muffled  His  beams 
that  He  might  lead  men  in  the  path  of  aid  to  the 
deaf  and  blind.  He  has  made  me  the  mouth  of  such 
as  cannot  speak,  and  my  blindness  others'  sight,  and 
let  me  be  hands  and  feet  to  the  maimed  and  the  help- 
less. And  because  I  could  not  do  this  alone,  being 
imprisoned  in  a  great  darkness  and  silence,  it  was 
necessary  that  another  should  liberate  me.  That  other 
is  Anne  Sullivan,  my  guardian  angel. 

I  have  been  frequently  asked  what  I  should  do 
without  her.  I  smile  and  answer  cheerfully,  ''God 
sent  her,  and  if  He  takes  her,  His  love  will  fill  the 
void,"  but  it  terrifies  me  to  face  the  thought  that  this 


344  MIDSTREAM 
question  brings  to  my  mind.  I  peer  with  a  heavy 
heart  into  the  years  to  come.  Hope's  face  is  veiled, 
troubling  fears  awake  and  bruise  me  as  they  wing 
through  the  dark.  I  lift  a  tremulous  prayer  to  God, 
for  I  should  be  blind  and  deaf  in  very  truth  if  she 
were  gone  away. 

The  day  that  I  hold  the  dearest  of  the  year  is  the 
day  she  came  to  me.  She  was  a  young  woman,  alone. 
She  had  been  blind  from  childhood,  and  her  sight 
had  just  been  partially  restored.  Everything  before 
her  was  unfamiliar.  She  was  fifteen  hundred  miles 
away  from  her  friends  in  a  strange  little  town  that 
had  been  almost  wrecked  by  the  Civil  War.  With 
little  equipment  except  an  extraordinary  mind  and 
a  brave  heart,  handicapped  by  imperfect  vision,  with 
only  the  training  she  had  received  from  Dr.  Howe's 
reports  of  his  work  with  Laura  Bridgman,  without 
help  or  counsel  or  previous  experience  in  teaching, 
she  struggled  with  some  of  the  most  complicated 
problems  in  one  of  the  most  difficult  of  all  fields  of 
education. 

There  were  gaps  and  deficiencies  in  her  own  in- 
struction that  she  had  the  wisdom  herself  to  see. 
Perhaps  it  was  because  of  them  that  she  brought  so 
much  freshness  to  her  work.  She  was  a  delightful 
companion,  entering  into  all  my  discoveries  with  the 
joy  of  a  fellow  explorer,  and  to  this  youthful  inter- 
est she  added  a  smiling  tact  and  endless  ingenuity  in 


MY  GUARDIAN  ANGEL  345 

explaining  what  I  did  not  understand.  And  in  those 
days  there  was  scarcely  a  thing  in  the  world  I  did 
understand.  Above  all  she  loved  me. 

The  stimulating  contacts  of  life  that  had  been  de- 
nied me  she  strove  to  supply.  She  was  ever  at  hand 
to  keep  me  in  touch  with  the  world  of  men  and 
women,  and  did  everything  she  could  to  develop  ways 
by  which  I  myself  could  communicate  directly  with 
them.  During  the  four  years  I  was  in  Radcliffe  Col- 
lege, she  sat  beside  me  in  the  classroom  and  with 
her  supple  speaking  hand  spelled  out  the  lectures  to 
me  word  by  word.  In  the  same  way  she  read  many 
books  to  me  in  French,  German,  Latin,  Greek- 
philosophy,  history,  literature,  and  economics— and 
she  has  continued  to  bring  me  day  by  day,  through 
the  years,  the  best  thoughts  of  men  and  the  news  of 
their  achievements.  In  spite  of  repeated  warnings 
from  oculists  she  has  always  abused  her  eyes  for  my 
sake.  Now  she  is  able  to  read  only  with  the  aid  of  a 
powerful  lens  which  was  prescribed  for  her  by  Dr. 
Conrad  Berens,  who  has  stood  near  while  this  book 
has  been  struggling  into  existence  to  keep  the  flicker- 
ing light  in  her  eyes  that  she  might  spell  the  typed 
pages  into  my  hand  and  thus  direct  the  stream  of  my 
thought  within  the  bounds  of  a  conceived  plan. 

I  often  wonder  what  my  life  would  have  been  like 
if  she  had  not  come  into  it.  I  cannot  picture  anyone 
else  in  her  place.  There  seems  to  me  nothing  acci- 


346  MIDSTREAM 

dental  in  the  circumstances  which  made  her  my 
teacher.  The  conditions  of  her  childhood  were  so 
harsh  that  from  her  earliest  years  she  had  to  take 
thought  of  life  or  perish.  Wellington  said  that  the 
battle  of  Waterloo  was  won  on  the  cricket  fields  of 
England.  So  I  say  my  education  was  accomplished 
in  the  tragedy  of  my  teacher's  life.  She  understood 
the  void  in  my  soul  because  her  childhood  had  been 
so  empty  of  joy.  It  is  when  I  think  of  how  often  I 
have  disappointed  her  with  work  I  have  done  ill  that 
I  cannot  imagine  what  she  saw  in  me  that  has  kept  her 
at  my  side  all  these  years. 

She  could  have  lived  her  own  life,  and  had  a  bet- 
ter chance  of  happiness  than  most  women.  Her 
power  of  clear,  audacious  thought  and  the  splendour 
of  her  unselfish  soul  might  have  made  her  a  leader 
among  the  women  of  her  day.  The  freshness  and 
lucidity  of  her  writing  would  have  won  distinction. 
But  she  has  closed  these  doors  to  herself  and  refused 
to  consider  anything  that  would  take  her  away  from 
me.  She  delights  in  the  silence  that  wraps  her  life 
in  mine,  and  says  that  the  story  of  her  teaching  is  the 
story  of  her  life,  her  work  is  her  biography.  She  has 
given  me  the  best  years  of  her  womanhood,  and  she 
is  still  giving  herself  to  me  day  by  day.  She  has  done 
much  for  me  that  cannot  be  defined  or  explained. 
By  the  vitalizing  power  of  her  friendship  she  has 
stirred  and  enlarged  my  faculties.  She  has  made  my 


MY  GUARDIAN  ANGEL  347 

good  impulses  more  fruitful,  my  will  to  serve  others 
stronger.  Slowly,  slowly,  out  of  my  weakness  and 
helplessness  she  has  built  up  my  life.  No  one  knows 
better  than  she  and  I  how  that  life  falls  short  of  what 
we  should  like  to  make  it.  But,  such  as  it  is,  she  has 
built  it. 

Out  of  the  orb  of  darkness  she  led  me  into  golden 
hours  and  regions  of  beauteous  thought,  bright-spun 
of  love  and  dreams.  Thought-buds  opened  softly  in 
the  walled  garden  of  my  mind.  Love  flowered  sweetly 
in  my  heart.  Spring  sang  joyously  in  all  the  silent, 
hidden  nooks  of  childhood,  and  the  dark  night  of 
blindness  shone  with  the  glory  of  stars  unseen.  As 
she  opened  the  locked  gates  of  my  being  my  heart 
leapt  with  gladness  and  my  feet  felt  the  thrill  of  the 
chanting  sea.  Happiness  flooded  my  being  as  the  sun 
overflows  the  earth,  and  I  stretched  out  my  hands  in 
quest  of  life. 


THE  END 


INDEX 


INDEX 


Addison,  Joseph,  9. 

Adult  blind.  See  Blind. 

Aguinaldo,  Emilio,  49. 

Akiba,  Mr.,  278. 

Alabama,  36,  330. 

Albee,  Edward  F,,  213. 

Alexander,  William,  4. 

Allen,  Mr.  Edward,  231. 

Alphabet.  See  Manual. 

American  Association  for  Promoting 
the  Teaching  of  Speech  to  the  Deaf, 
I  H.- 
American Association  of  Workers  for 
the  Blind,  224. 

American  Foundation  for  the  Blind, 
organized,  224;  Helen  Keller  begins 
work  for,  224-225;  offers  unique 
service  to,  230;  aim  of,  232;  cam- 
paign for,  232,  fF.;  bulletins  of,  em- 
bossed for  Helen  Keller,  263;  re- 
ceives help  from  Mrs.  Thaw,  269, 
from  Jedediah  Tingle,  277;  Edwin 
Grasse  plays  for,  285. 

American  Mercury,  262. 

Anagnos,  Michael,  73,  107,  253. 
Animals:  deer,  43-44;  dogs,  18-19, 

37-40;  horses,  188,  207-208. 
Atlantic  Monthly,  262. 
Autobiography,  Gibbon's,  191-192. 
Autobiography,  Helen  Keller's,  man- 
ner of  writing,  1-4;  estimate  of, 
343- 

Bacon,  Francis,  58,  316,  318-319. 
Baer,  Dr.  John  Willis,  240. 
Barron,  C.  W.,  271. 
Bartlett,  Professor,  16. 
Begley,  318. 

Bell,  Alexander  Graham,  Helen  Kel- 
ler's love  for,  47;  consulted  concern- 
ing school  for  deaf-blind,  71 ;  right  to 
a  say  in  shaping  Helen  Keller's  Hfe, 
74;  urges  Helen  Keller  to  help  deaf, 
81,  132-133;  introduces  Helen 
Keller's  lecture,  107;  comments  on 
Miss  Sullivan's  methods  in  teaching 

35 


Helen  Keller,  108;  grandfather's 
invention  to  overcome  stammering, 
108;  Melville  Bell's  (q.v.)  visible 
speech  system,  109;  visits  Mdville 
Bell,  109-111;  Helen  Keller  visits 
in  Washington  and  Cape  Breton, 
III,  fF.;  Helen  Keller  on  platform 
with,  112-113;  inventor  of  tele- 
phone, 107,  109,  1 16-120,  121-123, 
132;  work  for  deaf,  107,  io8,  109, 
113-115,  ii7»  132-133;  talk  with 
Helen  Keller  on  marriage,  133-135; 
Helen  Keller  sees  for  last  time,  135- 
137;  death  of,  137-138-  See  also  Bell, 
Mrs.  Alexander  Graham;  Bell,  Elsie; 
Bell,  Daisy;  Bell,  Melville;  Bell,  Mrs. 
Melville;  Watson,  Thomas  A.;  Deaf. 
Motion  picture. 
Bell,  Mrs.  Alexander  Graham,  iii, 
131. 

Bell,  Daisy,  iii,  129.  See  also  Fair- 
child,  Mrs. 

Bell,  Elsie,  iii,  129.  See  also  Grosvenor 
Gilbert,  Mrs. 

Bell,  Melville,  108-111. 

Bell,  Mrs.  Melville,  iio-iii. 

Berens,  Conrad,  345. 

Bergson,  Henri,  22. 

Bible,  313,  325. 

Birth  control,  331-332. 

Bittman,  Ian,  43,  177-178. 

Blackstone's  Commentaries,  245. 

Blake,  William,  325. 

Blind,  absurdities  about,  79,  153; 
adult,  75776,  78,  87,  225  fF.,  229,  234, 
241;  attitude  of  seeing  towards, 
225-230;  books  for,  78,  227-228, 
324-325;  Carmen  Sylva's  plan  for 
city  of,  74;  Lighthouse  for  the,  loi- 
102;  magazines  for,  80, 263 ;  National 
Institution  for,  in  Paris,  77;  printing 
for,  76-78,  81.  See  also  American 
Foundation  for  the  Blind, HelenKeller, 
Massachusetts  School  and  Perkins  In- 
stitution for  the  Blind,  Massachusetts 
State  Commission  for  the  Blind,  Deaf- 


INDEX 


blind,  and  individual  blind,  Braille, 
Louis;  Campbell,  Sir  Francis;  Gar- 
rett, Elizabeth;  Grasse,  Edwin;  Haito- 
viich,  Abraham;  Hayes,  Lydia; 
Irvin,  Robert;  Schall,  Thomas. 

Blind-deaf.    See  Deaf-blind. 

Blindness,  Mark  Twain's  opinion  of, 
48;  prevention  of  in  children,  79-80, 
231;  compared  with  deafness,  82, 
248. 

Blindenwesen,  81. 

Bok,  Edward,  4,  5,  80,  236. 

Bond,  Carrie  Jacobs,  240. 

Books  for  blind.  See  Blind. 

Booth,  William  Stone,  58,  318. 

Borah,  Senator,  235. 

Boston  Conservatory  of  Music,  88. 

Braille,  books  in  at  college,  8-9;  at 
Wrentham,  28,  34;  invention  of, 
77-78;  dictionaries  in,  84;  note  from 
lover  in,  180;  letters  from  Mrs. 
Macy  in,  182;  mother's  difficulty 
with,  218;  ease  with  which  it  can  be 
learned,  228;  M.  Galeron  and,  249; 
Madame  Galeron's  poems  in,  250; 
magazines  in,  263;  letters  in,  263; 
tablet,  264;  Countee  CuUen's  poems 
in,  278;  Mr.  Hitz  puts  books  into, 
for  Helen  Keller,  318;  Conrad  in, 
321,  323;  in  England,  324-325; 
cost  of  books,  325. 

Braille,  Louis,  77. 

Brashear,  John,  269. 

Brastow,  Dr.,  41. 

Bridget.  See  Crimmins,  Bridget. 

Bridgman,  Laura,  244'-246,  344. 

Brieux,  Eugene,  319,  320. 

Briggs,  Dean,  15-16,  25. 

Briggs,  W.  O.,  236. 

Brooklyn  Bridge,  2,  295. 

Browning,  Elizabeth  Barrett,  18, 135. 

Browning,  Robert,  9,  137,  143,  326. 

Burbank,  Luther,  240. 

Burns,  Robert,  142-143,  326. 

Burroughs,  John,  275,  316. 

Cabot,  Dr.  Richard,  275. 

California,  159-164,  166,  238,  265. 

Campbell,  Charles  F.  F.,  75-76,  80- 

81,  236. 
Campbell,  Sir  Francis,  75. 
Canada,  158. 
Canadian  Rockies,  162. 
Candida,  324. 


Capital,  330. 
Carmen  Sylva,  74. 

Carnegie,  Andrew,  74,  139-141,  146- 

147,  169,  290. 
Carnegie,  Margaret,  140. 
Carnegie,  Mrs.  Andrew,  140. 
Carlyle,  Thomas,  143. 
Carolinas,  The,  330. 
Caruso,  Enrico,  285. 
Casting  Away  of  Mrs.  Leeks  and  Mrs. 

Aleshine,  The,  281. 
Cather,  Willa,  323. 
Catullus,  9. 
Cenci,  The,  318 

Century  Magazine,  Essays  in,  34. 
Cervantes,  51. 
Chahapin,  285. 
Chance,  323. 
Chaplin,  Charlie,  194. 
Chatauqua    anti-preparedness  tour, 
171-173,  175,  176;  second  tour,  177. 
Chesterton,  G.  K.,  321. 
Chesterton,  Mrs.  G.  K.,  321. 
Child  labour,  330,  331,  332. 
Children,  284. 
Clemenceau,  Georges,  206. 
Clemens,  Clara,  55. 
Clemens,  Mrs.  Samuel,  50-51. 
Clemens,  Samuel  L.  See  Mark  Twain. 
Clemens,  Susie,  50. 
Cleveland,  President,  125. 
Cloud,  The,  326. 
Coe,  Mrs.,  288. 
College.  See  Radcliffe  College. 
Colum,  Padraic,  327. 
Compass.  See  Holmes,  Edward  L. 
Conrad,  Joseph,  287,  321-323. 
Conservator,  The,  315. 
Coolidge,  Archibald  Cary,  17. 
Coolidge,  Mrs.,  235. 
Coolidge,  President,  235. 
Copeland,  Charles  Townsend,  4,  16. 
Cowl,  Jane,  285. 
Crimmins,  Bridget,  19,  21-22. 
Crisp,  Donald,  239. 
CuUen,  Countee,  278. 

Daniel  Deronda,  2S1. 
Dans  Ma  Nuit,  248. 
Darky,  39. 

Darwin,  Charles,  118. 
Dawn,  Sylvia,  190. 

Deaf,  American  Association  for  Pro- 
moting the  Teaching  of  Speech  to 
the,  114;  Dr.  Bell  and  Dr,  James 


INDEX 


Kerr  Love  urge  Helen  Keller  to 
help,  81-82;  teaching  speech  to, 
90  fF.,  107;  education  of,  108,  113- 
iiS,  132;  Horace  Mann  School,  90; 
Rochester  School,  237. 
Deaf-bhnd,  school  planned  for,  with 
Helen  Keller  in  charge,  71-72; 
Helen  Keller  speaks  in  behalf  of,  at 
St.  Louis  Exposition,  82-83;  edu- 
cation of,  253-255;  capacities  of, 
255-261.  See  also  Bridgman,  Laura; 
Galeron,  Madame;  Martin,  Helen; 
Pearce,  Theodosia;  McGirr,  Katie; 
Schulz,  Helen;  Stringer,  Tommy. 
See  also  Mack,  Rebecca,  and  Sense 
Impressions. 
Deafness,  more  of  an  impediment  than 

blindness,  82,  248. 
Debs,  Eugene,  275-276,  336. 
Decline  and  Fall,  The.  See  History  of 
the  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Roman 
Empire,  The. 
Deer,  43-44. 

Deliverance,"  187. 
Descartes,  12. 

Detroit  League  for  the  Handicapped, 

236. 
Diderot,  81. 
Dilley,  Mr.,  38. 

Divine  Love  and  Wisdom,  The,  3 14. 
Dogs,  18-19. 
"  Dog's  Life,  A,"  194. 
Doubleday,  Frank  Nelson,  269-270, 
323. 

Doubleday,  Russell,  270. 
Dryden,  John,  9,  121. 
Dunne,  Peter  Finlay,  48,  54. 
Dunsany,  Lord,  327. 

Edison,  Thomas  A.,  290-291. 

Edward,  King,  144. 

Effendi.  See  Doubleday,  Frank  Nelson. 

Elegy  Written  in  a  Country  Church- 
yard, 143. 

Eliot,  Charles  W.,  16. 

Emerson,  Ralph  Waldo,  13,  15,  314. 

Encyclopedia  of  Education,  81. 

Everybody's  Magazine,  289. 

Eve's  Diary,  Mark  Twain  reads  from, 
64—66. 

Exploring  Life,  no. 

Fairbanks,  Douglas,  237-239. 
Fairchild,  Mrs.,  123.  See  also  Bell, 
Daisy. 


353 


Fay,  Dr.,  114. 

Father  Brown,  321. 

Fifth  Avenue,  164-165. 

Fisher  Brothers,  236. 

Fitzgerald,  Edward,  261. 

Ford,  Edsel,  236,  293. 

Ford,  Mrs.  Edsel,  236. 

Ford,  Henry,  291-294. 

Forest  Hills,  186,  209,  278,  283,  284, 

^315,342. 

Forsyte,  Saga,  The,  325. 

Foundation  for  the  Blind,  American. 

See  American  Foundation  fox  the 

Blind. 
France,  Anatole,  319. 
Francis,  David  Rowland,  82. 
Friendly  Town,  The,  318. 
Fuld,  Mrs.  Felix,  241. 
Fuller,  Lucy  Derby,  140. 
Fuller,  Sarah,  90,  91,  92. 
Funston,  Colonel,  49. 
Furness,  H.  H.,  318. 

Gabrilowitsch,  285. 
Galeron,  Monsieur,  248-249, 
Galeron,  Mme.  Berthe,  247-249,  254- 
255- 

Gallaudet  College,  114. 

Galsworthy,  John,  325. 

Gandhi,  Mahatma,  282. 

Garfield,  President,  122. 

Garrett,    EHzabeth,    278-281,  305. 

Garrett,  Pat,  278. 

Georgia,  330. 

Gibbon,  Edward,  191,  342, 

Gilder,  Richard  Watson,  34. 

Gilman  sqhool,  7,  265. 

Godowsky,  Leopold,  286. 

Golden  Treasury,  The,  325-326. 

Goldman,  Harry,  241. 

Goldsmith,  OHver,  9. 

Gladstone,  William  Ewart,  142. 

Gray,  Thomas,  143. 

Grasse,  Edwin,  285. 

Graselli,  241. 

Greenwood,  318. 

Grosvenor,  Gilbert,  235. 

Grosvenor,  Mrs.  Gilbert,  235.  See  also 

Bell,  Elsie. 
Growth  of  the  Soil,  323. 

Haitovitch,  Abraham,  285. 
Hale,  Edward  Everett,  32,  35. 
Hamsun,  Knut,  323. 
Hans,  39. 


354 


INDEX 


Happiness,  lecture  on,  141,  145-146. 

Hardy,  Thomas,  319,  323. 

Harmon,  William.  See  Jedediah  Tingle. 

Harper's,  262. 

Howard  University,  6,  20. 

Haiiy,  Valentin,  77. 

Hay,  daughter  of  John,  235.  See 

Wadsworth,  Mrs. 
Hayes,  Charles,  238. 
Hayes,  Lydia,  251. 
Hearn,  Lafcadio,  244. 
Heifetz,  286. 
Heinrich,  Max,  271-273. 
Henry  IF,  9. 
Henry  F,  9. 

Hicks,  Mrs.  Frederick,  235. 

Hirsch,  Betty,  278. 

History  of  the  Decline  and  Fall  of  the 

Roman  Empire,  192,  342. 
Hitz,  John,  28,  34,  173,  271,  276-277, 

3i4».3i8. 

Hofheimer  Foundation,  Nathan.  See 

Nathan  Hofheimer  Foundation. 
Hollywood,  187, 

Holmes,  Edward  L.,  265-267,  296. 
Holmes  Master  Compass  and  Position 

Indicator,  267. 
Holmes,  Walter,  80,  252. 
Holt.   See  Mather,   Winifred  Holt. 
Homer,  119. 
Horace,  121. 
Horses,  188,  207-208. 
Howe,  Samuel  Gridley,  73,  77,  84,  244, 

344- 

Howells,  William  Dean,  55,  275. 
Huckleberry  Finn,  318. 
Hutton,  Lawrence,  47-48,  103. 
Hutton,  Mrs.  Lawrence,  71-72,  288. 
Hyde,  Douglas,  327. 

/  Stood  Tip-toe  on  a  Little  Hill,  326. 

In  Memoriam,  132. 

Industrial  life,  330-331. 

Industry,  287-288. 

Inferno,  Dante's,  5. 

Ingersoll,  Robert,  145. 

Intercourse  Between  the  Soul  and  the 

Body,  314. 
Iphigenia,  281. 
Irvin,  Robert,  228. 
Irving,  Sir  Henry,  284-285. 
Is  Shakespeare  Dead  ?,  58. 

James,  William,  316-317. 
Jastrow,  28. 


Jaures,  336, 

Jedediah  Tingle  (William  Harmon), 

277-278. 
Jefferson,  Joseph,  285. 
Joan  of  Arc,  10,  207. 
Johns  Hopkins  Medical  School,  231. 
Johnson,  9. 
Jonquil,  125. 

Jordan  Marsh  department  store,  185. 

Joy,  Mr.,  236. 

Joy,  Mrs.,  236. 

Jude,  The  Obscure,  147. 

Julius  Ccesar,  132. 

Kahn,  Otto,  234. 

Kaiser,  37. 

Kant,  13-15. 

Keats,  9,  325-326. 

Keller,  Brooks,  309. 

Keller,  Captain,  218. 

Keller,  Helen,  begins  autobiography 
and  describes  manner  of  composi- 
tion, 1-4;  tells  of  difficulties  with 
The  Story  of  My  Life,  4-6;  meets 
John  Macy,  6;  difficulties  at  Rad- 
clifFe  College,  7-9;  studies  at  Rad- 
clifFe,  9-15;  contact  with  professors, 
15-18;  contact  with  classmates, 
18-20;  with  students  at  Harvard, 
20-21;  happy  memories  of  college 
days,  21-24;  graduation,  24-26; 
moves  to  Wrentham,  26;  describes 
house,  27-28;  describes  balcony  on 
which  she  "heard"  the  whippoor- 
will,  29-30;  appreciates  Mr.  Spauld- 
ing's  help,  30-32;  joyfully  witnesses 
teacher's  wedding  with  John  Macy, 
32-33;  describes  teacher,  33;  de- 
scribes John  Macy,  33-34;  writes 
The  World  I  Live  In,  34;  writes 
The  Song  of  the  Stone  Wall,  35; 
appreciates  Mr.  Macy's  help,  35- 
36;  tells  of  pets  at  Wrentham,  36; 
describes  walk,  45;  summarizes 
happiness  of  the  Wrentham  days, 
46;  meets  Mark  Twain,  47-48;  meets 
Peter  Finlay  Dunne,  48;  listens  to 
Mark  Twain's  denunciation  of 
Philippine  atrocities,  48-49;  speaks 
of  Mark  Twain's  cynicism,  49-50; 
of  his  love  for  his  wife,  50-51;  of 
his  place  in  literature,  51-52;  of  his 
appreciation  of  The  World  I  Live  In; 
of  his  invitation  to  her  and  the 
Macys  to  come  to  Stormfield,  53; 


INDEX 


355 


describes  the  visit,  52-66,  68;  speaks 
of  Mark  Twain's  attitude  towards 
her,  66,  69;  difficulties  in  choosing 
a  life  work,  70;  friend's  plan  for 
school  for  deaf-blind,  70-72;  other 
plans,  72;  Mr.  Anagnos'  plan,  73; 
Queen  of  Roumania's  plan,  73-74; 
attitude  of  closest  friends,  74-75; 
Mr.  Charles  F.  F.  Campbell  inter- 
ests in  work  for  blind,  75;  begins 
seriously  to  study  problems  of  blind- 
ness, 76;  writes  article  for  Kansas 
City  Star,  80;  writes  series  of  articles 
for  Ladies^  Home  Journal,  80;  writes 
an  article  on  blind  for  an  Encyclo- 
edia  of  Education,  81;  requests  to 
elp  blind  multiply,  81;  urged  by 
Dr.  Bell  and  Dr.  James  Kerr  Love 
to  help  deaf,  81-82;  visits  St.  Louis 
Exposition,  82-83;  hemmed  in  by 
obstacles,  83-85;  visited  by  Ma- 
dame Nordin,  85-86;  tries  to  barri- 
cade herself  into  privacy,  86;  joins 
Massachusetts  Commission  for  the 
Blind,  86-87;  difficulties  in  keeping 
up  with  commission,  87-88;  resigns 
from  commission,  88;  determines  to 
learn  to  speak  better,  88-89;  de- 
scribes   work    with    Miss  Sarah 
Fuller,  90-91;  at  Wright-Humason 
School,  92;  Miss  SuUi van's  work 
with   speech,  92-93;   Mr.  White 
begins  work  on,  937-96;  first  appear- 
ance in  Montclair,  New  Jersey, 
96-98;  begins  lecturing,  99  ff.;  is 
present  at  opening  of  New  York 
Lighthouse  for  Blind,  101-102;  is 
present  at  Wilson's'  inauguration, 
103;  gives  impression  of  Wilson, 
103-106;    introduced    to  lecture 
audience  by  Dr.  Bell,  107;  speaks 
of  Dr.  Bell's  enthusiasm  concerning 
Mrs.  Macy's  method  of  teaching, 
108;  describes  Dr.  Bell  and  his 
father,  109-110;  brings  flowers  to 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Melville  Bell,  iio- 
iii;   speaks   of  Mrs.  Alexander 
Graham    Bell,    iii;    present  at 
gatherings  at  Dr.  Bell's  home,  112; 
with  Dr.  Bell  on  platform,  112-113; 
becomes  aware  of  telephone,  117; 
pleasant  times  with  Dr.  Bell  in 
Boston,   117-121;  receives  letters 
from  Dr.  Bell,  123;  receives  com- 
ment from  Dr.  Bell  on  The  World  I 


Live  In,  123;  on  The  Song  of  the 
Stone  Wall,  124;  receives  "a  secret" 
from  Dr.  Bell,  124;  speaks  of  visit 
to  President  Cleveland,  125;  visits 
"zoo"  with  Dr.  Bell,  125;  visits 
Pittsburgh  with  Dr.  Bell,  126-127; 
visits  Dr.  Bell  in  Nova  Scotia,  127; 
helps  Dr.   Bell  with  kites,  128; 
listens  to  scientific  conversations, 
128-129;  spends  night  on  house- 
boat, 129-13 1 ;  talks  of  stars  with 
Dr.  Bell  and  Prof.  Newcomb,  130- 
131;  talks  with  Dr.  Bell  of  marriage, 
133-135;  last  sight  of  Dr.  Bell,  135- 
137;   refuses   Carnegie's  annuity, 
140;  calls  upon  Carnegie,  140-146; 
continues  lecture  tour,  146;  sur- 
renders to  necessity  of  taking  an- 
nuity, 146-147;  goes  through  tense 
suffering  when  John  Macy  leaves, 
147;    stays    constantly    on  road 
lecturing,  149;  describes  sensations 
in    travelling,    149-151;  attitude 
towards  social  functions,  151-153; 
attitude   of  newspapers  towards, 
153;  jumble  of  experiences  in  travel- 
ling,   154-155;  visits  schools  for 
blind  or  deaf,  155;  visits  invaHds, 
156;  receives  new  idea  of  the  struc- 
ture of  civilization,  156-158;  starts 
on  first  tour  across  continent,  158; 
reception  in  California,  159-160; 
in  the  Muir  woods,  161-162;  de- 
scribes   San    Francisco,  162-164; 
speaks  of  odours,  164-166;  subse- 
quent tours,  166-168;  Polly  Thom- 
son   becomes   secretary   of,  169; 
appreciation  of  Polly  Thomson,  169; 
overwhelmed  by  World  War,  170- 
171;  undertakes  anti-preparedness 
Chautauqua  tour,  171;  attitude  of 
audiences,  172;  of  press,  172-173; 
visit  to  President  Roosevelt,  173- 
175;  wishes  concerning  war,  175- 
176;  depression,  176;  love  affair, 
176-182;    receives    letters  from 
teacher  who  is  in  Porto  Rico,  182; 
gives  up  place  at  Wrentham,  183- 
185;  makes  home  in  Forest  Hills, 
186;    receives    letter  concerning 
motion  picture  of  her  life,  186;  goes 
to  Hollywood,  187;  begins  picture, 
188;  difficulties  in  posing,  189-190; 
substitutes  for,  in  early  scenes,  190- 
191;    presents    friends,  191-193; 


356 


INDEX 


visits  with  Charlie  Chaplin,  194- 
195;  Knowledge  and  Ignorance 
contend  for  spirit  of,  195-196;  goes 
out  to  hillside  for  part  of  picture, 
197-198;  with  Ulysses,  198-199; 
flight  in  an  aeroplane,  199-2CX); 
visits  shipyards,  200-201;  as  Mother 
of  Sorrows,  201-206;  interviews  Big 
Four,  206-207;  as  a  sort  of  Joan  of 
Arc,  207-208;  enters  vaudeville, 
209;  friends  of  protest  against 
vaudeville,  209;  finds  vaudeville 
deHghtful,  210-21 1 ;  difficulties  on 
lecture  tours,  21 1-2 12;  Hkes  man- 
agement of  vaudeville  under  Mr. 
Albee,  213-214;  likes  vaudeville 
audiences,  214-215;  mother's  death, 
216;  happiness  of  mother  on  ac- 
count of,  in  early  days,  216-217; 
suffering  because  of,  217-218;  de- 
scribes mother  on  farm,  218-220; 
talks  with  mother  about  books, 
220-221;  spends  summer  with,  at 
Lake  St.  Catherine,  221;  receives 
word  of  mother's  death,  222-223; 
invited  to  lecture  for  the  American 
Foundation  for  the  BHnd,  224; 
invokes  reader's  attention  to  blind, 
225  ff.;  start's  Foundation  cam- 
paign, 232;  chooses  Dr.  van  Dyke 
as  national  chairman,  233;  goes  to 
Washington,  234;  visits  Coolidge, 
234-235;  visits  Detroit,  236;  visits 
Buffalo,  237;  visits  Rochester,  237; 
writes  to  stars  in  filmland,  237;  re- 
ceives answer  from  Mary  Pickford, 
237;  visits  Mary  Pickford,  238-240; 
visits  Carrie  Jacobs  Bond,  240; 
visits  Luther  Burbank,  240;  stops 
campaign"  to  write  autobiography, 
240-241;  happiness  over  gift  to 
Foundation  fund,  241-242;  attitude 
towards  deprivations,  243-245;  re- 
membrance   of  Laura  Bridgman 

245-  246;  compares  self  with  Laura, 

246-  247;  compares  self  with  Ma- 
dame Berthe  Galeron,  248;  speaks 
of  other  deaf-blind,  250-253;  of 
Rebecca  Mack's  work  for,  253;  sug- 
gestions for  welfare  of,  253-254; 
capacities  of,  255;  subjected  to 
tests,  255-260;  feeling  towards 
denials  of  limitation,  260-261; 
varied  contacts,  262;  magazines, 
262-263;  goes  on  imaginary  trip 


around  world  with  Edna  Porter, 
264-265;    keeps    in    touch  with 
science  through  Edward  L.  Holmes, 
265;  with  callers,  268;  friends  who 
have  enriched  life,  268;  Mrs.  Wil- 
liam Thaw,  268;   Frank  Nelson 
Doubleday,      269-270;  Russell 
Doubleday,  270-271;  Swedenbor- 
gian  friends,  271;  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Charles  White,  271 ;  Max  Heinrich, 
271-273;   the   Maeterlincks,  273; 
Signora  Montessori,  273-274;  Mar- 
garet Macmillan,  274;  Judge  Lind- 
sey,  274-275;  friends  through  corre- 
spondence, 275;  Eugene  Debs,  275; 
Robert  M.  La  Follette,  276-277; 
William  Harmon,  277;  visitors  to 
Forest  Hills,  278;  Ehzabeth  Garrett, 
278-281;  Nina  Rhoades,  281;  Sir 
Arthur  Pearson,  281;  Rabindranath 
Tagore,  281-282;  Art  Young,  283; 
Mr.  Watson,  282-284;  enjoyment 
of  performances  of  actors,  especially 
Ellen   Terry,    Sir   Henry  Irving, 
Joseph  Jefferson,  David  Warfield, 
and  Jane  Cowl,  284-285;  enjoyment 
of  rnusicians,   especially  Caruso, 
Chaliapin,    Gabril6witsch,  Haito- 
vitch,  and  Grasse,  285;  of  Heifetz, 
285-286;  of  Godowsky,  286;  of  the 
radio,  287;  attitude  towards  jazz, 
287;  contacts  of  court  of  industry: 
with  Mr.  Spaulding  {q.v.),  288;  Mr. 
H.  H.  Rogers  {q.v.),  288-289;  with 
Mr.  Carnegie  {q.v.),  290;  with  Mr. 
Edison,  290-291;  with  Mr.  Ford, 
291-294;  visits  to  New  York,  295- 
300;  enjoyment  of  garden,  300-309; 
enjoyment  of  camping  trip,  309- 
311;  enjoyment  of  woods,  31 1-3 12; 
enjoyment  of  books,  313  ff.  especi-, 
ally  the  Bible,  313,  Swedenborg's, 
313;  Whitman's,  315,  {q.v.,  and  also 
Horace  7>i2w^^/),Thoreau's,3  i6,John 
Burroughs',  316;  WiUiam  James', 
316-317;  John  Macy's  counsel  con- 
cerning, 317,  319;  on  Shakespeare- 
Bacon  controversy,  318-319;  H.  G. 
Wells',  319;  Brieux's,3i9-32o;  Ches- 
terton's, 321;  modern,  by  contrast 
with  her  own  attitude  of  mind,  321; 
Conrad's,  321-323;  elemental,  323; 
Hardy's,    323-324;    Shaw's,  324; 
Paul  de  Kruif's,  324;  special,  made 
in  England,  324-325;  in  braille. 


IN 

325;  of  poetry,  325-328;  attitude 
towards  industrial  system,  330; 
towards  child  labour,  330-331,  332; 
towards  birth  control,  331-332; 
towards  America,  332-333;  towards 
complexity  of  her  own  ego,  333-334; 
towards  Russia,  334-335;  towards 
youth,  3  3  5-3  36;  towards  millennium, 
336;  towards  peace,  337-339;  phi- 
losophy of  life,  3  39-341 ;  emotions  on 
finishing  autobiography,  compared 
with  those  of  Gibbon  on  finishing 
The  Decline  and  Fall,  342;  tribute 
to  Guardian  Angel,  Anne  Sullivan, 
343-347. 

Keller,  Kate  Adams  (Helen  Keller's 
mother),  unable  to  be  present  at 
Helen's  graduation,  25;  right  to  a 
say  in  shaping  Helen's  life,  74; 
accompanies  Helen  on  her  firstt  our 
across  continent,  158  ff.;  place  taken 
by  Polly  Thomson  on  second  tour, 
169;  comes  to  Wrentham,  177; 
asks  Helen  about  lover,  180;  takes 
Helen  to  Montgomery,  181;  comes 
to  California  for  picture,  199;  death 
of,  and  Helen  Keller's  tribute,  216. 

Keller,  Katherine,  309. 

Keller,  Mildred.    See  Tyson,  Mildred. 

Keller,  Phillips,  218,  309. 

Keller,  Ravia,  309. 

Kellerman,  Annette,  153. 

Kelvin,  Lord,  117. 

Kent,  William,  161-162. 

Kindergarten  for  the  Blind,  253. 

King,  43. 

Kinney,  Lenore.  See  Smith,  Lenore 

Kinney. 
Kipling,  51,  106. 
Kropotkin,  319. 
Kruif,  Paul  de,  324. 

Labour.  See  Child  Labour. 
Ladies'  Home  Journal,  4,  5,  6,  80. 
La  Follette,  Robert  M.,  Jr.,  277. 
La  Follette,  Robert  M.,  Sr.,  276- 
277. 

Langley,  Prof.,  112,  128. 
Lanier,  Sidney,  326. 
Lansing,  Robert,  235. 
Lathbury,  Clarence,  271. 
Latimer,  H.  Randolph,  224. 
Lawson,  Thomas,  289. 
Le  Blanc,  Georgette,  273. 
If^aves  of  Grass,  3 14-315. 


Lectures  by  Helen  Keller:  early,  99- 
loi;  in  behalf  of  the  Lighthouse, 
loi;  in  Washington,  107;  in  Rich- 
mond, 139;  commented  upon  by 
Carnegie,  141,  146;  in  Maine,  146; 
tour  across  America,  149  fF.;  second 
tour,  169  ff.;  difficulties  over,  211- 
212;  on  behalf  of  the  American  Foun- 
dation for  the  Blind,  224-225;  in 
Detroit,  236;  in  Buffalo,  237;  in 
Rochester,  237;  discontinued,  240- 
241;  in  Northampton,  319;  in  towns 
where  capital  and  labour  were  in 
conflict,  330. 

Lenin,  334,  335,  336. 

Lewis,  F.  Park,  79. 

Lewis,  Sinclair,  321. 

Liebfreed,  Edwin,  196-197. 

Liebknecht,  Wilhelm,  336. 

Life  and  Letters  of  Joseph  Conrad,  323. 

Life  on  the  Mississippi,  52. 

Lighthouse  for  the  Blind,  101-102. 

Lights  from  Little  Lanterns,  251. 

Lincoln,  Abraham,  22. 

Lindbergh,  122. 

Lindsey,  Judge,  274-275. 

Lions  International,  231,  325. 

Lip  reading,  when  Mark  Twain  read 
Eve's  Diary,  65,  66;  Helen  Keller 
demonstrates,  99;  Mrs.  Bell's  skill 
at,  in;  advocated  by  Dr.  Bell, 
1 1 3-1 14;  when  callers  are  present, 
268. 

Livy,  9. 

Lloyd-George,  David,  206. 

Lord,  Bradford,  242. 

Lorm,  84. 

Los  Angeles,  159. 

Love,  James  Kerr,  81,  278. 

Lucas,  E.  v.,  318.  ^ 

Lyde,  Elsie  Leslie,  30-31. 

Lyon,  Miss,  53,  55,  59-60,  63-64. 

Lyon,  Mrs.  Edmund,  237. 

Macbeth,  155. 

Mack,  Rebecca,  251,  253. 

Macmillan,  Margaret,  274. 

Macy,  Anne  Sullivan,  at  Gilman 
school,  7-8;  reads  to  Helen  Keller  at 
college,  8-9;  visits  Dr.  Neilson,  16; 
conveys  feeling  of  Prof.  Copeland's 
voice  to  Helen  Keller,  16;  speaks  to 
Prof.  Coolidge,  17;  spells  classmates' 
chatter  to  Helen;  gets  Lenore  to 
substitute  for  her,  20;  at  Helen's 


358 


INDEX 


graduation,  24-26;  prepares  house 
at  Wrentham,  27-29;  tells  Helen 
about  whippoorwill,  29-30;  assisted 
financially  by  Mr.  John  Spaulding, 
31;  marries  John  Macy,  32-33; 
described   by  Helen   Keller,  33; 
waits  for  Nimrod,  39;  watches  the 
deer  in  the  apple  orchard,  43-44; 
compared  with  Mark  Twain,  47; 
meets  Mark  Twain,  47;  appreci- 
ated _  by  Mark  Twain,  50;  Mark 
Twain  watches  her  spell  to,  57; 
referred   to  by  Mark  Twain  as 
Guardian  Angel,  59;  walks  with 
Mark  Twain,  62;  spells  Eve's  Diary 
into  Helen's, hands,  64,  65;  becomes 
exhausted  over  plan  for  school  for 
deaf  and  blind,  70-71;  interference 
with,  72;  reproached  for  leaving 
Perkins  Institution,  73;  right  to 
manage  Helen,  74;  at  St.  Louis 
Exposition,  82-83;  breaks  down,  83; 
household  difficulties,  84-85,  86; 
on  Massachusetts  Commission  for 
the  Blind,  87-88;  takes  Helen  to 
Miss  Sarah  Fuller  for  lessons  in 
articulation,  90;  helps  Helen  with 
articulation,    92-93,    98;  begins 
lectures,  99;  interests  audience  in 
story  of  Helen,  loo-ioi;  describes 
Wilson's  inauguration,  103;  sent  to 
Helen  by  Dr.  Bell,  107;  commended 
by  Dr.  Bell,  108;  speaks  of  Dr. 
Bell's  and  his  father's  enunciation, 
no;  visits  Dr.  Bell,  iio-iii;  gets 
wedding  present  from  Dr.  Bell,  124- 
125;  describes  Pittsburgh,  126-127; 
visits  Beinn  Breagh,  127;  on  the 
houseboat,  129-13 1;  with  Mrs.  Bell, 
131-132;  Dr.  Bell  speaks  of  mar- 
riage, 134-135;  tired  from  lectures, 
139;   not   well,    146,    147;  spells 
description  of  California,  159;  an- 
swers Roosevelt's  questions  about 
Helen  Keller,  173;  shows  Roosevelt 
how  Helen  Keller  reads  lips,  174; 
ill,  177,  178,  I79»  180,  181;  goes  to 
Porto  Rico,  182;  moves  to  Forest 
Hills,  186;  dream  in  motion  picture, 
197;  protests  against  Helen  Keller's 
going  up  in  aeroplane,  199;  Helen 
Keller    concerned    about  future, 
209;  in  vaudeville,  210;  speaks  of 
Mrs.  Keller,  219;  lectures  for  Amer- 
ican Foundation  for  the  Blind,  224; 


calls  upon  Coolidge,  234-235;  visit 
to  Rochester  School  for  the  Deaf, 
237;  visits  Mary  Pickford,  238-239; 
with  Laura  Bridgman,  245-247; 
compared  with  M.  Galeron,  248; 
inspires  Miss  Hayes,  251;  reads 
current  news  to  Helen  Keller,  262; 
interprets  callers  to  Helen,  268; 
with  Signora  Montessori,  273-274; 
influences  Margaret  Macmillan, 
274;  with  Art  Young,  283;  visits 
H.  H.  Rogers,  288;  with  Edison, 
291;  with  Helen  Keller  on  trip 
around  Manhattan  Island,  296;  goes 
camping,  309-311;  William  James 
visits,  316;  as  Helen  Keller's 
Guardian  Angel,  343-347. 
Macy,  John,  comes  to  Helen  Keller's 
rescue  in  connection  with  The  Story 
of  My  Life,  6;  marries  Miss  Sullivan, 

32-  33;  described  by  Helen  Keller, 

33-  34;  helps  with  composition  of 
The  World  I  Live  In  and  The  Song 
of  the  Stone  Wall,  34-35;  in  woods 
around  Wrentham,  36;  friend  of, 
presents  Kaiser,  37;  brings  Nimrod, 
39-44;  drives  whitefoot,  42;  takes 
great  interest  in  Wrentham  place, 
45;  visits  Mark  Twain,  52  IF.;  reads 
German  and  French  books  to  Helen 
Keller,  81;  impossible  to  read  all 
needed,  84;  goes  to  Boston  every 
morning,  84;  at  Woodrow  Wilson's 
inauguration,  103;  receives  letter 
from  Dr.  Bell,  108;  Miss  Sullivan 
tells  Dr.  Bell  of  her  engagement  to, 
135;  wearies  of  struggle,  147-148; 
Wrentham  without,  177;  describes 
Art  Young's  cartoons  to  Helen 
Keller,  283;  counsels  Helen  Keller 
with   regard   to   books,  317-319. 

McGirr,  Katie,  252. 

Maeterlinck,  Maurice,  273. 

Maeterlinck,  Mme.  (Georgette  Le 
Blanc),  273. 

Magazines  for  blind,  80,  280. 

Manual,  alphabet,  8,  93-94,  in,  114. 

Mark  Twain,  contacts  with  Helen 
Keller,  47;  first  meeting  with  Helen 
Keller,  47-48;  denunciation  of 
Philippine  atrocities,  48-49;  cyni- 
cism, 49;  speaks  of  his  wife,  50-51; 
a  great  American  in  Helen  Keller's 
opinion,  5 1-52;  invites  Helen  Keller, 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Macy  to  Stormfield, 


INDEX 


359 


52-69;  speaks  against  special  school 
for  deaf-blind,  71-72;  Wilson's 
attitude  towards  his  denunciation 
of  American  soldiers  in  the  Philip- 
pines, 103-104;  represented  in 
Helen  Keller's  motion  picture,  193; 
opinion  of  fools,  198;  calls  on  Hut- 
tons  with  H.  H.  Rogers,  288; 
opinion  of  H.  H.  Rogers,  289; 
Connecticut  Yankee  quoted,  302. 

Martin,  Helen,  251, 

Marx,  Karl,  22,  319,  325. 

Masefield,  John,  327-328. 

Mason,  Ann,  190. 

Massachusetts,  330. 

Massachusetts  School  and  Perkins 
Institution  for  the  Blind,  30-31, 
73,  75*  77,  84,  125,  231,  245,  254, 
316. 

Massachusetts  State  Commission  for 

the  BHnd,  76,  87,  88,  263. 
Masters,  Edgar  Lee,  323. 
Mather,  Samuel,  241. 
Mather,  Winifred  Holt,  101-IQ2,  174. 
Matilda  Ziegler  Magazine  for  the  Blind, 

241,  252,  280, 
Meckstroth,  Bertha,  18. 
Mell,  Alexander,  81. 
Mencken,  Henry  L.,  321. 
Microbe  Hunters,  324. 
Migel,  M.  C,  224,  228,  241. 
Miller,  Francis  Trevelyan,  186. 
Milton,  John,  142,  226. 
Montessori,  Signora,  273-274. 
Morley,  John,  270. 
Morrow,  A,,  79. 

Motion  picture,  Helen  Keller's,  186- 
208;  Charlie  Chaplin's,  194;  Mary 
Pickford's,  237-240.  See  also  De- 
liverance. 

Muir  woods,  161. 

My  Antonia,  323. 

My  Religion,  313. 

Nathan  Hofheimer  Foundation,  241. 
Nathan  the  Wise,  281. 
Nation,  262. 

National  Committee  for  the  Pre- 
vention of  Blindness,  79-80,  230. 

National  Library  for  the  Blind,  234. 

National  Society  for  the  Prevention 
of  Blindness,  230. 

National  Vaudeville  Association,  213. 

Nebraska  School  for  the  Blind,  251. 

Neilson,  William  Allan,  16. 


Nelson,  Colonel,  80 
New  Jersey,  330. 

New  Jersey  Commission  for  the  Blind, 
251. 

New  Jerusalem  Church,  271. 
New  York,  164-165. 
New  York  Point,  281. 
New  Worlds  for  Old,  3 19. 
Newcomb,  Professor,  112,  130-131. 
Newspapers,  153,  172-173. 
Nietzsche,  22. 
Nimrod,  39-41. 

Nordin,   Elizabeth,   visit   to  Helen 

Keller,  85. 
North,  Dr.,  79. 

Odour.  See  Smell,  Sense  of. 
Omar  Khayyam,  194. 
O'Neill,  Eugene,  321. 
Open  Road,  The,  168,  318. 
Opium,  282. 

Ophthalmia  neonatorum,  79,  230. 
Optimism,  15. 
Origin  of  Species,  The,  118. 
Orpheum  Circuit,  209. 
Othello,  9. 

Out  of  the  Dark,  141. 

Outlook  for  the  Blind,  The,  81. 

Oxford  Dictionary,  109. 

Paget,  Sir  Richard,  278. 
Paine,  Albert  Bigelow,  54. 
Palgrave,  325. 

Pan-American  Exposition,  273. 

Peace,  333-334,  337-339- 

Pearce,  Theodosia,  250. 

Pearson,  Sir  Arthur,  281,  324. 

Pedro,  Dom,  Emperor  of  Brazil,  116- 

117. 
Peggy,  188. 

Penn,  William,  337-339. 
Pennsylvania,  330. 

Perkins  Institution.  See  Massachu- 
setts School  and  Perkins  Institution 
for  the  Blind. 

Philosophy,  at  RadclifFe,  11-15;  by 
the  fireside  in  Cambridge,  22-23; 
Helen   Keller's,   of  life,  333-341. 

Philosophy  of  Loyalty,  The,  17. 

Phiz,  18-19,  37- 

Pickford,  Mary,  237-239. 

Pittsburgh,  126-127. 

Plato,  7,  12,  316. 

Piatt,  George  Foster,  189,  195,  201. 
Plautus,  9. 


36o  IN 

Pliny,  174. 
Poetry,  9-10. 
Pope,  9. 

Porter,  Edna,  264,  278,  309. 
Powell,  Major,  112. 
Pratt,  Mrs.,  117. 

Printing    for    blind,    confusion  in, 

76-78,  81. 
Prometheus  Unbound,  326. 
Psychologie  des  Femmes  Aveugles,  83. 
Punch,  262. 

Quakers,  338-339- 
Queensborough,  295-296. 

RadclifFe  College,  Helen  Keller  a 
Sophomore,  i;  writes  The  Story  of 
My  Life  at,  4-6;  admission  to,  7; 
method  of  study,  8-9;  literature, 
9-10;  history,  lo-ii;  philosophy, 
11-15;  professors,  15-18;  class- 
mates, 18-20;  degree  conferred, 
24-26;  plan  to  force  Hellen  Keller 
to  leave,  70-72;  scene  of  Helen 
Keller's  first  definite  interest  in 
sightless  as  a  group,  75;  false  reports 
about  Helen  Keller  at,  85-86; 
method  of  following  lectures,  87-88; 
Woodrow  Wilson  asks  Helen  Keller 
why  she  chose,  104;  summer  follow- 
ing first  year  spent  with  Dr.  Bell, 
127  fF.;  H.  H.  Rogers  makes  it 
possible  for  Helen  Keller  to  attend, 
288;  Miss  Sullivan  beside  Helen 
Keller  at,  345. 

Red  Cross,  braille  service,  8. 

Reed,  318. 

Rhoades,  Harsen  John,  71,  281. 
Rhoades,  Nina,  281. 
Rhode  Island,  330. 
Riders  of  the  Sea,  327. 
Roberts,  Florence,  190. 
Robins  in    Helen    Keller's  garden 
304-306. 

Rochester  School  for  the  Deaf,  237. 
Rockefeller,  John  D.,  Jr.,  241. 
Roebling,  Colonel,  2,  3,  295. 
Rogers,  H.  H.,  8,  47,  54,  71,  72,  74, 

139,  288-289. 
Rogers,  Mrs.  H.  H.,  54,  288-289. 
RoUand,  Romain,  319,  336. 
Roosevelt,  Theodore,  161,  173-174. 
Royal  Normal  College  and  Academy 

of  Music,  75. 
Royce,  Josiah,  16,  17. 


EX 

Russell,  George  {IE),  327. 
Russia,  revolution  in,  334-335. 

Sacco,  336. 

San  Francisco,  160-164. 
Sandburg,  Carl,  275. 
Saturday  Evening  Post,  The,  283. 
"Saul,"  326. 
Schall,  Thomas,  235. 
Schiller,  10. 

School  for  Blind  in  Tokio,  278. 

Schopenhauer,  22. 

Schreiner,  Olive,  323, 

Schulz,  Helen,  251. 

Schurz,  Carl,  102. 

Scott,  Sir  Walter,  143. 

Senses,  development  of,  11-15;  Mark 

Twain's  opinion  of,  66;  trained,  99; 

use  of,  120;  white  darkness,  164; 

tested,  257-260. 
Seyburn,  Mrs.,  236. 
Shakespeare,  William,  58,  119,  143. 
Shaw,  George  Bernard,  51,  319,  320, 

324- 

Shelley,  Percy  Bysshe,  9,  22,  325,  326. 

"  Shoulder  Arms,"  194. 

Sibley,  Harper,  237. 

Sibley,  Mrs.  Harper,  237. 

SiegUnde,  39,  186,  309-310. 

Sign  system,  11 3-1 14. 

Sizeranne,  Maurice  de  la,  83. 

Skylark,  To  a,  326. 

Sligo,  207-208. 

Smell,  sense  of,  164-166,  291. 

Smith,  Lenore  Kinney,  6,  20,  32,  235. 

Smith,  Philip  Sidney,  6,  20,  235. 

Smith  College,  16. 

Smoke,  324. 

Socialism,  141. 

Socrates,  7,  12. 

Song  of  the  Stone  Wall,  The,  35. 

Sonnets  from  the  Portuguese,  18. 

Sonnets,  Shakespeare's,  9, 

Sous  les  Trembles,  81. 

Spaulding,  J.  P.,  30-31,  288. 

Speech,  Helen  Keller's  struggle  for, 
88-89;  90-98;  first  public,  in  Mont- 
clair,  96-98;  Dr.  Bell  introduces 
Helen  Keller's,  107;  Dr.  Bell's 
interest  in,  108-110,  113-115,  116, 
122;  at  Richmond,  139. 

Sperry,  Paul,  271. 

Spoon  River  Anthology,  323. 

Stadelman,  Father,  253. 

St.  Louis  Exposition,  82. 


/ 


INDEX 


361 


Star,  Kansas  City,  80. 
State  Commission  for  Blind  in  Massa- 
chusetts, 75. 
Steele,  9. 
Stirner,  Max,  22. 

Stormfield,  Helen  Keller's  visit  to, 

47,  52-69. 
Story  of  an  African  Farm,  The,  323. 
Story  of  My  Life,  The,  4.-6,  7,  108,  188, 

249-250,  270. 
Strikes,  330. 
Stringer,  Tommy,  252. 
Suffrage,  woman,  103. 
Sullivan,   Anne.    See   Macy,  Anne 

Sullivan. 
Swedenborg,  15,  313. 
Swift,  9,  323-324. 
Swinburne,  22. 
Synge,  327. 

Tacitus,  9. 

Taft,  William  Howard,  loi. 
Tagore,  Rabindranath,  281-282. 
Teacher.  See  Macy,  Anne  Sullivan. 
Tempest,  The,  132. 
Tennessee,  330. 
Terry,  Ellen,  284. 
Tess  of  the  D' Urbervilles,  323. 
Thaw,  Mrs.  William,  72,  74,  269. 
Thompson,  Francis,  326-327. 
Thomson,  Polly,  169,  177,  181,  182, 

186,  188,  189,  203,  238,  242,  262, 

268,  323. 
Thora,  38. 

Thoreau,  36,  314,  316. 

Three  Diamonds,  321. 

Tilney,  Frederick,  257. 

Tolstoi,  Leo,  22,  319,  336. 

Touch,  sense  of,  256.  See  also  Senses, 

development  of. 
Tours,  149,  fF.  See  also  Lecture. 
Transcript,  Boston,  39,  41. 
Traubel,  Horace,  315. 
Trifles,  321. 
Turgenev,  324. 
Tuscumbia,  36, 

Twain,  Mark.  See  Mark  Twain. 
Tyson,  Katherine,  309. 
Tyson,  Mildred,  218,  309. 
Tyson,  Patricia,  309. 
Tyson,  Warren  L.,  218,  3C9. 

Ulysses,  198-199. 

Uniform  Type  Committee  of  the 


American  Association  of  Workers 
for  the  Blind,  227-228. 
Utah,  330. 

"Valkyrie,  The,"  287. 

Value,  Price,  and  Profit,  325. 

Van  Dyke,  Henry,  233-234,  236. 

Vanzetti,  336. 

V atra  Luminosa,  74. 

Victoria,  Queen,  143. 

Victory,  323. 

Villard,  Oswald  Garrison,  262-263. 

Virginibus  Puerisque,  21S. 

Volta  bureau,  115. 

Voltaire,  51. 

Von  Maltzan,  235. 

Wade,  William,  8. 
Wadsworth,  Mrs.,  235-236. 
Warburg,  Felix,  241. 
Warfield,  David,  285. 
Warren,  George,  271, 
Warren,  Mr.,  of  Detroit,  236. 
Watson,  Thomas,  no,  118-119, 

122,  283-284. 
Weber,  Harry,  213. 
Well  of  the  Saints,  The,  327. 
Wells,  H.G.,  319. 

Western  Pennsylvania  Institution  for 

the  Blind,  224, 
West  Virginia,  330. 
White,  Blanco,  131. 
White,  Charles  A.,  88,  92-98,  271-272. 
White,  Mrs.  Charles,  271-272. 
"White  darkness,"  164. 
Whitefoot,  42. 

Whitman,  Walt,  22, 167-168,  314-316, 

326,  339-340. 
Wilmer,  William  Holland,  231. 
Wilson,  Woodrow,  48,  103-107,  171, 

277. 

Winter's  Tale,  A,  p. 
Wollomonapoag,  Lake,  26,  36. 
Woman  suffrage,  103. 
Women's  Educational  and  Industrial 

Union,  75. 
Wood,  Leonard,  General,  49. 
Wordsworth,  9,  143. 
Workers,  Helen  Keller  becomes  aware 

of  condition  of,  156-158. 
World  I  Live  In,  The,  15,  34,  52,  123, 

317- 

World's  Work,  262. 

World  War,  169-170 

Wrentham,  26,  29,  47,  70,  76,  83-88, 


3^2  INDEX 

93,  139,  148*  177,  182-183,  220,  273,  Ziegler  Magazine  for  the  Blind.  See 
AX7  •  u                 r^   ,  c  ,     ,  Matilda  Ziegler  Magazine  for  the 

Wnght-Humason  Oral  School,  92.  Blind. 

^       „,.„.      ^    ,  Ziegler,  Mrs.  William,  80. 

Yeats,  William  Butler,  327.  Ziegler,  William,  241. 

Young,  Art,  283.  Zoo,  125. 


/ 


i 


I 


HVl62i.!  c»  3 

Keller,  Helen  Adams 
r-ndstream. 


Date  Due 

/AMERICAN  FOUNDATION  FOR  THE  BLIND 

15  WEST  16th  STREET 
NEW  YORK,  N.Y.  IC:!!